Would Arkansas Have Saved Six Californias?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Tim Draper’s Six Californias measure won’t be on the ballot, because just two-thirds of signatures in a random check were valid – meaning that there weren’t enough signatures to qualify.

If Draper had been collecting signatures in Arkansas, that wouldn’t have been the end of the story. California initiative law is inflexible, and designed to make it hard to rectify errors. But Arkansas law gives initiative sponsors who come up short in validity checks a second chance. As Governing magazine recently noted, initiative campaigns there get an additional 30 days to collect more signatures if they have too many invalid signatures to qualify at first.

Intriguingly, Arkansas may decide to change this law – and create a new standard even tighter than California. A measure on the November ballot would create a hard 75 percent validity rate requirement for signatures. If 75 percent of your signatures aren’t valid on the first try, your initiative automatically fails.

I’ll be in Arkansas the week of the November elections to learn more.

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