Opinion No. 2017-084
August 4, 2017
Mary L. Berry, Sponsor
Post Office Box 511
Summit, AR 72677
Dear Ms. Berry:
I am writing in response to your request for certification, pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 7-9-107 (Supp. 2015), of the popular name and ballot title for a proposed initiated measure.
In the course of reviewing a sponsor’s submission, my office determines, based on a close reading of the materials provided, whether the ballot title and popular name would be misleading to voters. I have engaged in this statutory review many times with respect to your proposed measures. I have also reviewed proposals submitted by individuals with whom you are cooperating, such as Larry Morris, Jason Berry, and Avalon Romane. And I have cautioned Mr. Morris and you that because your proposed measures are substantively identical, I cannot discharge my duty under Ark. Code Ann. § 7-9-107 unless your submissions are consolidated. When two or more identical proposals are submitted for certification, a statewide election might well put voters to a choice between measures having the same ballot titles and popular names.
Mr. Morris most recently submitted a proposal that I rejected in Opinion No. 2017-081. The opinion was released to him at approximately 3:08 p.m. on July 21, 2017. Later that afternoon, at approximately 4:50 p.m., you submitted a proposal under your name. You indicated that “Larry Morris and I are working together,” and said you “know that [your submissions] are somewhat similar.” You added that you “do not expect to collect signatures for two certified amendments” but are nevertheless “hoping we can get at least one certified.”
The pending submission is a slightly revised version of the submission I rejected on July 7, 2017 in Opinion No. 2017-076. The submission analyzed in Opinion No. 2017-076 (bearing your name) was itself virtually identical to the submission rejected in Opinion No. 2017-081 (bearing Mr. Morris’s name). Therefore, the proposal currently before me is substantively identical to the latest proposal submitted by Mr. Morris. Because the proposal you submitted on July 21, 2017 is so similar to the proposals rejected in Op. No. 2017-076 and 2017-081, I must reject it without further comment.
I encourage you again to choose between the proposals drafted by you and Mr. Morris and submit only one going forward. This will allow my office to consider and respond to a single ballot title, popular name, and draft amendment. It will likewise allow you and Mr. Morris to revise, as needed, a single proposal in an effort to obtain certification.