The following can be attributed to Bonnie Miller, Chair of Arkansas Voters First, on oral arguments presented today in U.S. District Court to request a preliminary injunction to place the redistricting reform amendment on the ballot:
While we respectfully disagree with Judge Brooks’ decision, we respect the court and acknowledge the impact of his decision. We will not give up our pursuit for fair, transparent redistricting in Arkansas. Over 150,000 Arkansas voters have been 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.
State law requires citizen-driven initiatives to receive 89,151 signatures to appear on the ballot, an enormous burden given social distancing. Arkansas has one of the most onerous requirements in the country; every signature must be witnessed and canvassers must swear an oath before a notary public that they witnessed the signatures.
The Arkansas Voters First proposal, Issue 4, would have ended the secret backroom deals politicians use to manipulate political districts to protect their interests. The amendment would create a nine-member independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission. Commission members, who could not have served as a politician or lobbyist for the last five years, will hold public hearings broadcast on TV or online. It would have three Republicans, three Democrats and three independent members, creating a fair, transparent, citizen-driven process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts.