Arkansas secretary of state asks court to dismiss challenge to alcohol sales ballot measure

IndustriesAssociated Press

Secretary of State Mark Martin on Tuesday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to keep off the ballot a proposal to legalize alcohol sales in all of the state's 75 counties, saying ballots are already being printed with the measure on them.

Martin's office filed a brief responding to a lawsuit filed last week by Citizens for Local Rights, which opposes the proposed constitutional amendment. The group argued that the original submission of petition signatures on July 7 failed to meet a July 4 deadline to be submitted at least four months before the election, as required by state constitution. It also argued that the ballot title is insufficient.

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Martin noted that a 1999 state law allows Arkansas to use the next business day for election deadlines if the original deadline falls on a holiday, and said the state constitution allows such changes.

Martin also noted that blocking the measure from the ballot could also affect another proposal going before voters in November. Petitions for a proposed initiated act to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage were also submitted to Martin's office on July 7.

The group challenging the alcohol measure has asked for oral arguments before justices and for the case to be expedited. Martin on Tuesday in a separate filing said the court should postpone any ruling on oral arguments, saying it was premature.

At present, 37 of Arkansas' 75 counties are dry, meaning the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, except under certain laws, such as those allowing for private clubs.