Flexible Mark Martin clears path for amendment votes | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Flexible Mark Martin clears path for amendment votes

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Not too surprising. Following advice from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Secretary of State Mark Martin has decided to supply the missing words the legislature was supposed to supply — popular names — for three constitutional amendments the legislature put on the 2014 ballot.

The legislature removed this duty from the attorney general's office. But it failed to supply the names itself. For a time, the secretary of state was reluctant to do the ministerial duty of supplying the names because, well, there's no explicit authorization for him to do so in the law.

But, in the face of the massive special interest lobby support for the measures, Martin decided to be flexible. Just as he decided to be flexible and ignore the plain language of Election Commission rules in saying Craighead County officials could count absentee ballots with which IDs had not been provided if those voters showed up with IDs within a week of election day. There's no authorization in statute for that either. But the Craighead County mess was the first of many likely because of the new Republican voter ID law. Wouldn't want to create a backlash supporting its repeal. It still worked fine for those who wanted the ID to disfranchise voters. Hardly anybody showed up with  an ID in the cure period and about 1 percent of the vote in Craighead County in the special Senate election was invalidated thanks to the new law.

This should work to Republicans' favor on the constitutional amendments, which include a measure to hamstring the democratic process of putting initiatives on the ballot and one to give the Republican majority legislature still more executive power by giving it approval power over executive agency rules.

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