Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Arkansas’ Petition to Vote on Abortion Rights Amendment Denied

By meerna Jul11,2024
Arkansas’ Petition to Vote on Abortion Rights Amendment Denied

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston (R) rejected petitions to put an abortion access bill on the ballot this fall, blaming the organizing group for a procedural error.

Arkansans for Limited Government has collected more than 100,000 signatures in support of a bill to legalize abortion up to 18 weeks after conception, with exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or threat of physical harm to the pregnant patient. The group faces a significant challenge in promoting its constitutional amendment initiative in a state that is sometimes considered “the most pro-life state in America.”

Thurston said the group did not produce a document listing the names of paid canvassers or a signed statement confirming that paid canvassers were given the required information about their role. He added that when signatures collected by paid canvassers were removed, the number dropped to 87,382, below the threshold of 90,704 to be included on the ballot.

“Since you have failed to take this first step, it is my duty to reject your application,” he wrote in a letter to the group.

In a statement after the event, Arkansans for Limited Government said it had complied with the requirements and that it “will fight this ridiculous attempt at disqualification by any means necessary.”

The group also said it cooperated with the Secretary of State’s Office throughout the process, using documents filed by the office to provide the state with a list of paid canvassers and requested information related to their employment.

“To now claim that we did not provide the required documentation regarding paid canvassers is absurd and patently, undeniably false,” the statement said.

The group said it sent the required signed statement to the office “more than a dozen times.”

Thurston’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anti-abortion Republicans in Arkansas expressed approval of Thurston’s decision. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said liberal abortion rights advocates in Arkansas “have shown themselves to be both immoral and incompetent.”

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin he said in a social media post that “failing to comply with such a basic requirement is inexcusable.” He added that abortion rights advocates “have no one to blame but themselves.”

“As I have long said, amending the Arkansas Constitution requires a rigorous process, as it should be, and requires sponsors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations,” he said.

Abortion will be on the ballot in about a dozen states in November. When voters were asked to vote on the issue since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022, measures aimed at preserving or expanding abortion access were overwhelmingly approved, while those aimed at restricting it were defeated, even in more conservative states.

Hannah Knowles assisted in the preparation of this report.

By meerna

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