At Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, we believe that Arkansas families should have a say in major decisions that will impact their communities. That’s why we support the ballot measure process. And Arkansans agree. Attempts by the legislature to restrict ballot access have been rejected by Arkansas voters in election after election. This bill is the definition of government red-tape. Placing unnecessary burdens on everyday Arkansans.
The ballot measure process is the constitutional right of the people of this state. A right they have had for over 100 years, and a constitutional right that some in the legislature continue to attempt restrict and to make rules so unnecessarily complex, they can scare away the average Arkansan from exercising their constitutional right.
HB1601 would require paid signature collectors, also known as canvassers, to obtain a license from the Secretary of State before they can collect signatures.
The bill’s stated purpose of not incentivizing canvassers by the number of signatures they collect has already be addressed by the legislature. In 2021, the General Assembly passed a law that canvassers cannot be paid by the number of signatures they collect, but rather by the hour.
And finally, many legislators this session have expressed their desire to remove what they called see as unnecessary barriers to work. If a bill that requires an adult to obtain a license for a job that will last one or two months and involves standing on a public sidewalk asking someone to sign a petition isn’t considered an unnecessary bureaucratic barrier, we are not sure what is.
We ask our lawmakers to trust the families in their communities who put them into office. Who made a careful decision at the ballot box to elect them, just as they made the decision to vote against limits to their constitutional right.
We ask our lawmakers to please vote against HB1601.