WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two restrictive and dangerous proposed constitutional amendments faced setbacks this week after Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) rejected the proposals’ ballot titles and summaries.
One amendment would require that all elections in Arkansas be conducted entirely with paper ballots — the latest example in a trend of Republicans baselessly attacking voting machines. Paper ballots can be problematic due to cost, lack of predictability of demand and more — an issue that came to a head this month when multiple precincts in Hinds County, Mississippi, home to the state’s capital of Jackson, ran out of ballots.
Griffin provided numerous reasons for rejecting the paper ballot amendment, including multiple areas where the proposed language is misleading, confusing and unclear. He took additional issue with the use of partisan coloring language, grammatical issues and the unusually long length of the popular name, which is typically just a few words long and intended to give a short summary of the proposal.
The second amendment takes aim at absentee voting as it would limit the period for Arkansans to vote by absentee ballot to 30 days before an election and only permit the practice if a voter is impaired and cannot vote in person. Currently, voters can submit their absentee ballot in person up until the Friday before the election in person or by mail within seven days before the election.
In a letter, Griffin similarly wrote that the language was ambiguous, confusing and unclear. He also pointed out what he viewed as an insufficient summary, inaccurate language regarding who can repeal legislation in the state, an unusually long popular name and grammatical issues.
The proposed amendments are being put forward by a group called Restore Election Integrity Arkansas (REIA), whose chief, Conrad Reynolds, has made multiple dubious claims about voting machines.
Reynolds has alleged that voters don’t know if their votes will be counted because “computers can be hacked” and that “if you don’t know who is programming it, you don’t think a machine can be manipulated to make a mistake?” Arkansas’ Republican secretary of state pushed back on both claims, making clear in a statement to FOX 16 that the state’s modern, “state-of-the-art voting machines and tabulators” are secure and accurate.
An attorney representing REIA, Clinton Lancaster, said the group would continue its push to get the proposals on the 2024 ballot and that he didn’t “care how it happens, as long as it’s on there.” Lancaster hopes to clarify the measures and gain approval by early spring.
If the ballot tiles and popular names were to be approved, REIA would then need to collect 92,000 signatures from voters in 50 counties for each proposal.