Arkansas community groups files ballot initiative to amend redistricting process

Politics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State officials said a coalition of Arkansas community groups announced a new campaign to change the state’s redistricting process through a statewide ballot initiative.

According to state officials, the groups called People Not Politicians filed the ballot initiative Tuesday with Secretary of State John Thurston.

Officials said the proposed constitutional amendment would create a Citizens’ Redistricting Commission tasked with redrawing district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state House of Representatives and the state Senate in 2023.

Loriee Evans, spokesperson for PNP and lead organizer for Indivisible of Little Rock & Central Arkansas, said that shifting the voting power back to the people is an important first step in fixing the problems in our state.

“We all know that voters should choose their politicians, but the current system allows politicians to pick their voters. Shifting power back to the people in order to end partisan gerrymandering is an important first step in fixing the problems in our state,” Evans said.

Officials said the commission would be composed of nine members: three Republicans, three Democrats, and three members with other or no political party affiliation.

State officials also said that the measure prohibits participation by current and former political operatives, lobbyists and elected officials.

Attorney and author of the amendment David Couch has high hopes for the initiative, saying it was very popular with voters before it was thrown off the ballot last year.

“This is essentially the same initiative we filed in 2020 that was very popular with voters, until it was thrown off the ballot on a technicality,” Couch said. “We were successful in collecting over 100,000 signatures then, and I feel confident that we will do it again.”

In order to qualify for the November 2022 ballot, officials said the group will need to collect 89,151 valid signatures from registered voters in at least 15 counties.

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