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Group sues challenging Arkansas’ rejection of petitions

September 2, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Supporters of initiatives that would overhaul Arkansas’ redistricting process and its primaries on Wednesday asked a federal judge to force the state to count signatures that were submitted in favor of the proposals.

A lawsuit by the League of Women Voters of Arkansas comes days after the state Supreme Court blocked the proposed constitutional amendments from the November ballot. Justices agreed with Secretary of State John Thurston’s decision that the initiative campaigns did not comply with a state law requiring them to certify that their signature gatherers passed criminal background checks.

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Thurston’s office declined comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said the initiative campaigns complied with the requirement but the statement would have required them to make a false statement since background checks don’t grade someone as passing or failing.

The redistricting proposal would have put a nine-member commission in charge of redrawing congressional and legislative districts. Under the second proposal, candidates for most offices would have run in a single open primary and the top four candidates would advance to the general election. Voters would then rank their top choices one through four.

Supporters of proposals must submit at least 89,151 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot.