Initiative 1: Proposing an Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Concerning the Terms, Election, and Eligibility of Elected Officials

What will appear on the ballot?

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING ELECTED OFFICIALS; PROVIDING FOR TERMS OF OFFICE FOR CERTAIN COUNTY OFFICIALS FOR FOUR (4) YEARS; PROVIDING THAT CERTAIN COUNTY OFFICERS SHALL NOT BE APPOINTED OR ELECTED TO A CIVIL OFFICE DURING THEIR ELECTED TERM; ALLOWING A CANDIDATE FOR AN OFFICE TO BE CERTIFIED AS ELECTED WITHOUT APPEARING ON THE BALLOT WHEN HE OR SHE IS THE ONLY CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE AT THE ELECTION; AND DEFINING THE TERM ‘INFAMOUS CRIME’ FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING THE ELIGIBILITY OF ELECTED OFFICIALS TO HOLD OFFICE.

Full Text

What is in the Initiative?

  • If only 1 candidate is qualified for an office, after all deadlines have passed, and no write-in candidates are qualified, then that candidate shall be declared elected and the race will not appear on the ballot. If no other election or issue is on the ballot, the election will not be held.
  • Clarification of what crimes disqualify someone from being elected to the General Assembly or hold any office of trust or profit in this state:
    • Embezzlement of public money
    • Bribery
    • Forgery
    • A felony offense
    • Abuse of office as defined under Arkansas law
    • Tampering as defined under Arkansas law
    • A misdemeanor offense in which the finder of fact was required to find, or the defendant to admit, an act of deceit, fraud, or false statement, including without limitation a misdemeanor offense related to the election process.
  • Extending the term lengths for the following offices from the current 2 year terms, to 4 year terms (this would not take effect until the 2018 elections) (anyone elected or appointed to these offices, would not be able to be appointed or elected to any other civil office in this state):
    • Circuit Clerks
    • County Judge
    • County Sheriff
    • County Assessor
    • County Coroner
    • County Treasurer
    • County Surveyor
    • County Collector of Taxes (if created separate from from the Sheriff)

Support For:

  • Save money on printing uncontested races on ballots and on holding elections with no contested races.
  • Clarify which convictions make someone ineligible for election to General Assembly and other offices of trust or profit in the state.
  • Longer term limits allow people to learn their jobs better and allow them to concentrate on the work rather than re-election.
  • Preventing people elected to these offices from being appointed to other offices ensures the voters get full terms from their elected officials.

Opposition Against:

  • Printing uncontested ballots and holding uncontested elections, raises awareness and may encourage people to run for those offices in the future.
  • Making terms longer leads to more entrenched politicians, who view elected office as a career rather than temporary public service. Shorter terms keeps officials concentrated on working for those who elected them.
  • Preventing the appointment of these elected officials to other offices, could lead to a qualified candidate being unable to fill a vacancy.
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