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Arkansas ballot measure would change redistricting process

March 5, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A proposed ballot measure was filed in Arkansas on Thursday that would create a new independent commission to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative districts.

The proposed constitutional amendment by Arkansas Voters First, a group formed to campaign for the measure, would put a nine-member commission in charge of the redistricting process. The group must submit at least 89,151 signatures from registered voters by July 3 to qualify the proposal for the November ballot.

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Arkansas’ legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years by a panel comprised of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state. The state’s U.S. House district lines are redrawn by the Legislature. Republicans hold all statewide partisan offices and a majority of both chambers of the Legislature.

The nine-member commission under the proposal would be selected by a panel of three retired judges selected by the state Supreme Court’s chief justice, and would be equally divided between Republicans, Democrats and independent voters.