Arkansas’s motion to vote on abortion law amendment rejected

Arkansas’s motion to vote on abortion law amendment rejected

Arkansas Republican Secretary of State John Thurston has rejected requests to put an abortion-free measure on the ballot this fall, blaming a procedural error by the organizing group.

Arkansasians for Limited Government collected more than 100,000 signatures in support of a ballot proposal to legalize abortion up to 18 weeks after conception, with exceptions after that in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities or threats of physical violence against the pregnant patient. The group faced a significant challenge in getting its constitutional amendment initiative passed in the state sometimes called the “most pro-life state in America.”

Thurston said the group failed to provide a document with the names of paid poll workers and a signed statement confirming that paid poll workers were given the required information about their role. He added that after the signatures were removed, the number of signatures collected by paid poll workers dropped to 87,382, below the 90,704 threshold for inclusion on the ballot.

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

Arkansas for Limited Government subsequently issued a statement saying it had met the requirements and “will fight this ridiculous disqualification attempt with every means at our disposal.”

The group also said it worked with the Secretary of State’s office throughout the process, using affidavits from the office to provide the state with a list of paid poll workers and required information related to their employment.

“To now claim that we have not provided the required documentation on paid property managers is absurd and demonstrably and indisputably false,” it said.

The group said it emailed 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 activists in Arkansas expressed their approval of Thurston’s decision. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said liberal abortion rights activists in Arkansas had “proven themselves to be both immoral and incompetent.”

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a social media post that “failure 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 is a rigorous process, as it should be, and requires sponsors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations,” he said.

Abortion will be voted on in November in about a dozen states. When have voters been asked to vote on the issue since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn abortion? Roe v. Wade In June 2022, even in more conservative states, they overwhelmingly approved measures that would preserve or expand access to abortion and rejected those that would restrict it.

Hannah Knowles contributed to this report.