AR Briefly

Arkansas voters reject constitutional amendment to raise ballot initiative approval threshold

By: - November 9, 2022 12:16 am

A proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that would have made it harder to pass future ballot initiatives failed by a wide margin Tuesday.

Issue 2 would have increased the threshold for passing constitutional amendments and initiated acts, referred to voters by both the Arkansas Legislature and through citizen-led petitions, from a simple majority to 60%.

The Associated Press called the race at 11:22 p.m.

Unofficial returns with 81% of precincts reporting were:

Against 465,594

For 320,653

The measure was introduced and put on the ballot by Republican state legislators.

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel campaigned against Issue 2, saying it would create minority rule. APPP Policy Director Kymara Seals said Tuesday that the results were encouraging.

“We’re fighting for democracy, and it’s a step toward maintaining that democracy and allowing the people to rule in the state of Arkansas, which is our motto,” Seals said, referring to the state motto of “regnat populus,” Latin for “the people rule.”

State Rep. David Ray (R-Maumelle), the measure’s primary sponsor in the Legislature, said in a text message that he found the results “disappointing.”

He previously said increasing the vote threshold would be a “check” on “dumb ideas” put forth by the Legislature.

“There’s no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of out-of-state, liberal ad dollars deceived voters about what Issue 2 would actually do,” Ray said.

He added that “this setback is only temporary” and he plans to work on legislation next year “to reform our initiative system to protect it from further abuse.”

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Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Advocate
Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Advocate

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri. A Midwesterner by birth, she graduated from the University of Missouri's journalism school in 2019.

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