The Honest Elections Project filed a brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, supporting the state of Arkansas’ effort to stay a lower court ruling that enjoined key initiative signature gathering rules.

Arkansas law requires that ten percent of the state’s registered voters sign a petition supporting any initiative before it may be placed on the ballot. Arkansas uses a variety of safeguards to ensure that proposed initiatives have real public support from actual voters, including requiring that canvassers personally gather signatures and confirm their legitimacy with a notarized affidavit. Three Arkansas voters seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November sued to invalidated these provisions in light of COVID-19 and force the state to accept electronic signatures. The district court did not go that far, but did enjoin the requirements that signatures be gathered in the presence of canvassers and that canvassers must attest to the validity of the signatures he gathered with a notarized affidavit. Arkansas is now appealing to the Eighth Circuit for a stay.

“Protecting the initiative petition process is every bit as important as safeguarding the voting process. Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, people can and do commit fraud when gathering signatures, making it crucial for states to do all they can to detect and deter it,” said Jason Snead, executive director. “The plaintiffs in this case showed no reason that, even as we reopen our society, they could not gather signatures or obtain notarizations while respecting social distancing. This case, like so many others, is an attempt to get courts to deliver policy wins that lawmakers reject. We therefore hope that the Eighth Circuit will grant Arkansas a stay and preserve these electoral safeguards.”

Click here to read the entire brief.