Friday, July 18, 2014

Minimum wage petitions short on valid signatures

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:17 PM

As expected, the drive to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot fell short of the number of valid signatures of registered voters to qualify on the initial submission. They have 30 days to get more.

The Give Arkansas a Raise Now campaign had submitted more than 70,000 signatures, but after a review for facially unacceptable signatures, the secretary of state's office said 64,000 had been submittted.

Today, the secretary of state said:

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin announces the petition submitted for the proposed Initiated Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage did not meet the number of verified signatures required to be placed on the November ballot. The Secretary of State’s Office has notified the petition sponsor that they now have an additional 30 days to collect signatures to compensate for those signatures that were disqualified.

The initiated act to increase the minimum wage — from $6.25 to $8.50 by 2017 — needs 62,507 signatures. This morning, the secretary of state's office, in announcing a shortfall on the drive for a constitutional amendment to allow alcohol sales statewide gave the precise number — more than 17,000 — of additional signatures needed.

I'm trying to find out the number lacking on the minimum wage petitions. It could be that there's a disagreement on some of the signatures invalidated in the original review. The minimum wage campaign organizers had believed they would have a higher percentage of valid signatures by using door-to-door canvassing, a method thought likely to get more people at their proper addresses and duly registered. The high rate of disqualification on the first batch was a disappointment. Those following the process said there were differences of interpretation on the clarity of the text of the amendment as printed on backs of the petitions.  Whole sheets of signatures could be thrown it if the text was not legible.

The minimum wage proposal is a cornerstone of Democratic Party campaigning this fall. All the top candidates have endorsed the ballot initiative. Republicans have uniformly opposed it.

The Republican Party has had people monitoring the validation process for the minimum wage petitions.

UPDATE: A spokesman for the secretary of state said about the absence of a precise number:

We won't have the numbers until Monday. We wanted to notify them as soon as we knew they were short so they can start gathering more signatures.

In fact, both campaigns reportedly have continued to gather signatures since meeting the initial July 7 deadline.

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