Attorney General approves ballot title to create citizens redistricting commission

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansans may get the chance to decide whether they want to change the way the state’s congressional and state legislative districts are drawn up.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved a ballot title that would change the Arkansas Constitution to create a citizens redistricting commission. That panel would be responsible for redistricting Arkansas’s four congressional districts, 35 state senate districts, and 100 state house districts every ten years. Right now, that responsibility falls to state lawmakers. 

If the measure is passed into law, the redistricting commission would be made up of seven members. They would be appointed as follows:
– one appointed by the Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives
– one by the President Pro Tempore of the Arkansas Senate
– one by the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Arkansas House of Representatives
– one by the Majority Leader of the Arkansas Senate
– one by the Majority Leader of the Arkansas House of Representatives
– one by the Minority Leader of the Arkansas Senate
– one by the Minority Leader of the Arkansas House of Representatives

The ballot title’s sponsor, Nate Steel, is a former Democratic state representative and 2014 candidate for attorney general. Supporters of a nonpartisan redistricting commission have said it would decrease the likelihood of gerrymandering, or unfairly drawing up districts to favor one political party over another. Some opponents believe a commission like this cannot truly be nonpartisan.

The next step will be acquiring enough signatures to get this measure onto the 2020 general election ballot. The benchmark for a constitutional amendment in 2020 will be 89,151 signatures.

You can read Attorney General Rutledge’s approval of the ballot title here.

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