Issues That Matter: On The Ballot And In The Voting Booth

Sep 28, 2020

Participants in Issues That Matter: On the Ballot and in the Voting Booth.
Credit YouTube

In the latest Issues That Matter, a series of presentations by KUAR, the Central Arkansas Library System, and the League of Women Voters of Pulaski County, a discussion about statewide proposals to be decided by Arkansas voters in the November election. We also talked about Election Day concerns about voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This forum was streamed live online on Sept. 17, focusing on the three remaining proposals to be considered by Arkansas voters:

  • Issue 1: Continues a 0.5 percent sales tax for transportation
  • Issue 2: Changes term limits to twelve consecutive years for state legislators with the opportunity to return after a four-year break
  • Issue 3: Changes initiative process and legislative referral requirements

Three other questions have been removed from the ballot, including one in the hours before Issues That Matter took place. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 17 that the campaign behind Issue 6 didn't comply with a law requiring backers to certify that paid canvassers passed a criminal background check. The court blocked two other ballot measures last month on similar grounds.

The program will be broadcast on KUAR Monday at 7 p.m. and reaired on Wednesday at 7 p.m. It can also be watched below.

The program was not structured as a debate, though we did include opposing sides on Issue 3 because it would change the process of how people put questions to voters, making it much more difficult. We reached out to two state legislators backing this proposal, but both said they had other events scheduled and could not join in this conversation.

Panelists included:

Dr. Jay Barth
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Politics at Hendrix College
He wrote about the history of “direct democracy” which allows voters to approve or reject new state laws and proposed changes to the Arkansas constitution for the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Kristin Higgins
Program Associate with the Public Policy Center at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
She prepared this year’s Voter Guide for Arkansas Ballot Issues, which is neutral and research-based, intended to inform voters about what they’ll be considering.

Preston Eldridge
An attorney who has been involved in several Arkansas ballot proposals in recent years.

Kenny Hall
Executive Vice-President of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce
His group, along with the Arkansas Farm Bureau, is supporting Issue 3, which is a constitutional amendment.

Melissa Fults
Program Director for the nonprofit Arkansans for Compassionate Care
She has been involved in several proposals over the years that were knocked off the ballot. She also oversaw the successful campaign for a medical marijuana amendment in 2016.

Joshua Price
Commissioner with the Pulaski County Election Commission
He spoke about the election process, including absentee voting amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.