The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas issued a decision that will allow signature gathering for a nonpartisan independent redistricting commission to proceed. Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit on April 21, 2020 on behalf of a client Arkansas Voters First, which is seeking to put before voters a fair maps initiative on the ballot in November.
Under new guidelines laid out by the court, signature collection will no longer require witnessing or notarization by a notary public, which helps protect the health and safety of Arkansas voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This preliminary victory in court will allow voters to sign the petition at home and mail it in without having to interact with a canvasser and increase their risk of contracting COVID-19.
This win in court gives Arkansans a real chance to bring fairness to the redistricting process. Arkansas Voters First is now redoubling its efforts, hoping to reach as many voters as they can with a message about fair maps so that the initiative will get on the ballot and pass in November.
CLC is also representing the individual plaintiff Bonnie Miller, who is leading the League of Women Voters’ public education efforts in Arkansas about the benefits of fair maps. She is in this fight because there is a lot on the ballot in November beyond the race for president.
COVID-19 has harmed so many people. It should not also stop Americans from expressing themselves and participating in the democratic process.