by Max Brantley
The failure of the Sponsor to certify to Respondent Secretary that criminal background checks had been completed on each paid canvasser as required by A.C.A. $7-9-601(bX3) could be a material defect and disallow the counting of all signatures under A.C.A. $7-9-601(bX5) which is a "do not count" instructionIf the Supreme Court agrees this was a material defect and disallows all signatures, the campaign is over. But even if that argument is rejected, 12,500 signatures were placed in doubt by Looney for other reasons, including being gathered too soon or by canvassers that did not demonstrate a State Police background check. Those alone also could bring the certified number below the requirement.
We worked carefully to honor the Secretary of State’s process. The Secretary of State found that we had complied with the process and certified more than 93,000 signatures. We are confident that the Supreme Court will respect the will of the people and keep Issue 4 on the ballot this November. Reforms like Issue 4 have been put in place in half the states across the nation and have led to greater access to doctors and better care. Arkansas doesn’t need to be left behind.
The Committee to Protect Arkansas Families cheered the findings:
The Special Master, the Honorable Judge J. W. Looney, submitted his report to the state’s highest court. The corporate nursing home owners and their lobbyist made choices, including the choice not to follow the laws of Arkansas: they failed to file the appropriate paperwork, failed to conduct criminal background checks and failed to certify the paid canvassers, which is required by law.
Statement from Committee to Protect AR Families Director Martha Deaver:
The corporate nursing home owners will stop at nothing in their quest for higher profits, including blatantly violating the law to try and pass a constitutional amendment to protect themselves. The Special Master’s report calls out the Sponsor’s blatant disregard for the law when trying to amend our state’s constitution. I want to thank the Supreme Court of Arkansas and Judge Looney for allowing us the forum to exercise our constitutional rights as Arkansans.
Judge Looney found that these failures could invalidate most signatures, and he found additional violations of the law that could disqualify more than 11,000 signatures. The Sponsor of this amendment made a choice to not follow Arkansas law and the Master’s report indicates that the Sponsor’s own actions result in the amendment’s failure.