If there is an issue that you think should become a law, you don’t have to wait until your state legislature agrees with you. You can let the voters decide by filing a ballot initiative. Your direct action can qualify your measure to be on the ballot in the next statewide election.
Last updated on: December 9, 2020
The following information is a brief overview of the Initiative Process in the state of Arkansas. Consult the state’s Initiatives & Referenda Handbook for a more detailed description of the initiative process and the rules surrounding it.
Filing a State-Level Initiative
At the state level, Arkansas allows for two types of initiatives: Acts and Amendments. In either case, file your proposed initiative with the Secretary of State. Additionally, an initiative can only be on the ballot in the general election. You must publish the petition thirty days before filing. The deadline to file is four months before the general election.
An Act initiative creates a statute that is either altered or repealed by the state legislature with a two-thirds vote. This type of initiative requires a qualifying number of signatures. It must be equivalent to 8% of the total votes cast for the office of governor in the previous general election.
An Amendment initiative amends the Arkansas Constitution and would require a vote by the citizens of Arkansas to be enacted. This type of initiative requires a qualifying number of signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast for the office of governor in the previous general election.
At the local and county level, citizens are allowed to file initiatives with their local government. While some rules may vary by county, there are some general rules. Petitions need qualifying signatures equal to 15% of the total votes for office of the circuit clerk in the previous general election. Where the office of circuit clerk no longer exists, the total votes for office of governor will be used instead. Initiative petitions have a window of 90-120 days before the general election to file with the circuit clerk.