Angry that voters passed a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage in 2018, Arkansas Republicans are using their legislative majorities to put a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that would make it vastly harder for progressives—but not conservatives—to ever put a measure on the ballot again.
Currently, to put a measure on the ballot, organizers must gather a number of voter signatures equal to a certain percentage of the vote cast in the most recent election for governor (but never greater than 10%). They must also collect half that percentage in at least 15 of Arkansas’ 75 counties.
This new amendment, however, would increase that requirement to a majority of 45 counties. Given that Democrats and black voters are heavily concentrated in a few highly populated counties such as Pulaski (home of Little Rock) and in the rural Delta region, this provision would effectively require those backing progressive measures to gather a significant number of signatures from rural, conservative-dominated counties. Conservatives, however, would not have to do the same in urban, heavily Democratic areas.