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Signature campaigns make final push ahead of July 5 deadline

Volunteers for For AR Kids work to count ballot signatures, Tuesday.
Josie Lenora
Little Rock Public Radio
Volunteers for For AR Kids work to count ballot signatures Tuesday.

Arkansas is days away from the signature collection deadline to place amendments on the November ballot.

On Friday, July 5, supporters of seven potential amendments will head to the Capitol to turn in boxes of signatures they have collected. Each proposal needs to get tens of thousands of signatures from all across the state to be put on the ballot.

If the ballot title will amend the constitution, then it needs 90,704 signatures from 8% of registered voters in 50 counties. If it's just an initiated act, it needs 72,563 from 8% of voters in 50 counties.

Several groups say they are getting close to the needed amount. Gennie Diaz is a representative for Arkansas for Limited Government, a group attempting to put an amendment on the ballot to legalize abortion. She says the group only needs 8,200 more signatures before the deadline.

Another group, For AR Kids, is working to put an amendment on the ballot to regulate private schools getting tax money. The group is still counting all of their signatures, but says they will make it. Today, Steve Grappe, a representative for the group said they are about 30,000 signatures short. The group plans to use the Fourth of July holiday to collect as many signatures as possible.

David Couch is a lawyer representing several ballot amendments: to ease access to medical marijuana, repeal a previous casino amendment, and enshrine the Freedom of Information Act in the state constitution. Of those, he thinks the casino amendment is most likely to make it.

Signatures are due to the Secretary of State's office by 5 p.m. Friday. A spokesman said they will have 30 days to count all the signatures.

The office has to verify the signatures by matching them to the ones on a person's voter registration. In total, this could take weeks.

Some ballot amendments may get a “cure period,” or 30 extra days to collect more signatures. This will only happen if they collect up to 75% of needed signatures.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.