SOS Refuses to Verify Petition Signatures
Sec. of State Daniles: Why is this man smiling? He just (illegally as far as I can tell) dismissed the voter's petition to limit taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens.
Roby Brock reports that the SOS's office has dismissed Secure Arkansas' petition to limit taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens. Charlie Daniels' office claimed they hired an "independent" accounting firm to count the number of signatures on the ballot. For the nonce, I will forgo comment on how "independent" a firm hired by people against the amendment can be when counting signatures for the amendment. The firm claimed only some 67,542 signatures were collected. Secure Arkansas claimed 78,211, less than a thousand over the number required to get on the ballot.
What is supposed to happen according to amendment 7 of the state's constitution and title seven chapter nine of the Arkansas Code both linked to here, is that the SOS's office is supposed to take up to 30 days to verify the signatures and report to the petitioners how many votes they fell short. The petitioners are then supposed to have 30 days to make up the difference.
Instead what seems to have happened is that the SOS hired an accounting firm to tell them that they don't have to verify the signatures. Secure Arkansas people who helped deliver the signatures assure me that they had the raw number.
I invite any legally minded person to read the amendment and associated statute linked above. There is no provision for the SOS to hire an outside accounting firm that has the power to let them off the hook from complying with the amendment. In addition, the way signatures are counting is very favorable for the petitioners. As long as a voter can be ID, the signature counts even if some of the rest of the information is missing. And if verification is contested, the amendment goes to the ballot while the court case is in progress. The SOS is apparently pulling this extra-constitutional move in order to claim that verification never began and does not have to begin. That's not how I read it, I invite you to do the same.
Unfortunately, the statue does not have any sanction if the Secretary of State brazenly refuses to verify or do anything else in the amendment or statute.
Secure Arkansas is supposed to meet with their lawyers today. I think they have a good case. I just hope they have the money to fight it in court.