Federal judge rules against validating 150,000 petition signatures
FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Late Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in Miller v. Thurston that 150,000 signatures collected for a ballot measure that would create an independent redistricting commission in the state were invalid. The decision inhibits voters from voting on an independent redistricting commission on the November ballot.
“We will not give up our pursuit for fair, transparent redistricting in Arkansas,” said Bonnie Miller LWV of Arkansas member and chairperson of Arkansas Voters First. “Right now, over 150,000 Arkansas voters are being disenfranchised from their right to vote on a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to end partisan gerrymandering in our state. This process has shown that special interests have too much influence at every level of state government. As voters, we must continuously work to have our voices heard. We will continue this fight beyond November to hold our elected officials accountable to the people.”
The LWV of Arkansas turned to a federal court to validate the signatures after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against counting the signatures, citing a technical issue. The initiative is part of the League of Women Voters of the United States People Powered Fair MapsTM campaign, which aims to create fair redistricting practices in all 50 states and DC.
“It’s tragic to witness so many voices be silenced,” said Deborah Turner, board president for the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Despite the ruling, it is imperative that voters remember their voices are valid, use their power by voting in the upcoming election, and get involved in the state’s redistricting process.”
The League of Women Voters of Arkansas was represented by Campaign Legal Center.
“Arkansas voters were denied the ability to have a voice in the redistricting process, in a huge setback for the 150,000 people statewide that signed their name to support fair maps, expecting a question on their ballot this fall,” said Ruth Greenwood, co-director, redistricting, at Campaign Legal Center (CLC), the attorney who gave oral arguments before the court on behalf of the plaintiffs. “This case has proved to us that special interests will stop at nothing to retain their power over the map drawing process, even if it means ignoring the will of the people. That fact means we must redouble our efforts to fight for fair maps.”
While this unfortunate ruling means Arkansans will not have the opportunity to vote for fair maps in November, the League of Women Voters encourages everyone to get involved in the redistricting process in 2021.