Senate committee OKs bill making it illegal to destroy signatures on ballot petitions
, 2023-03-16 04:41:55,
The Senate Judiciary Committee weighed into a contentious bout of Arkansas casino politics Wednesday, advancing a bill that would make it a crime to destroy signatures on a ballot petition.
The bill comes from the heated campaign over a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to revoke the gaming license for Pope County, which has become a bitter debate between two Native American groups that had vied for the license.
Senate Bill 377, sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, would make it a misdemeanor to destroy a signature, other than your own, on a ballot petition. The bill stems from incidents in which canvassers, who were paid to collect signatures to get the amendment on November’s ballot, were threatened and harassed, they told the committee Wednesday.
One canvasser said she was offered money to throw away signatures she collected for a proposed constitutional amendment. Another said operatives from the opposing side threatened him.
The bill also states paying a person or accepting money to destroy ballot signatures would count as a Class A misdemeanor. The proposed legislation also concerns people known as “blockers,” who are hired by campaigns to convince people not to sign ballot petitions. The bill would require paid signature blockers to register with the state, just as paid canvassers are required to do.
“Members, from time to time, we are accused of running a bill for an issue that doesn’t exist. This bill is certainly not that,” said Senate President…
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