Arkansas judge dismisses suit over redistricting proposal

Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge has ruled against a group that was suing the state to get a redistricting measure on November’s ballot.

The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit after the state Supreme Court blocked a proposed constitutional amendment that would alter how legislative and congressional districts are set up. To get it on the Nov. 3 ballot, the group would need at least 89,151 signatures from registered voters. Republican Secretary of State John Thurston denied their petitions, saying the initiative campaign didn’t comply with a state law requiring signature collectors to pass background checks.

The group’s lawyers said compliance with the law would force canvassers to lie about background checks or have their petitions rejected, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks in Fayetteville dismissed the case permanently. The judge had said during a hearing Monday that he thought the background requirement could be followed without anyone having to lie.

Bonnie Miller, president of the Washington County League of Women Voters, said the group will pursue the redistricting measure in a future election.

“This process has shown that special interests have too much influence at every level of state government,” Miller said. “As voters, we must continuously work to have our voices heard. We will continue this fight beyond November to hold our elected officials accountable to the people.”

Chris Powell, spokesman for Thurston, who is named as the defendant in the lawsuit, said his office had no comment.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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