As of August 1, 2022, the Arkansas General Election is now 100 days away. If you’re an American citizen and Arkansas resident, it’s your civic duty to vote for the candidates and measures that you think will benefit your community. To help you do that effectively, here’s a brief overview of what might be on your ballot and where you can go to find out more.
As a general election, the time for primaries has passed, and whoever wins the most votes wins the position. Since this is a midterm election, it will include candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as well as a variety of other candidates or ballot issues for state or local governments. Some, such as the senator, will be state-wide, while others will be dependent on your district, city, or county.
Every ballot will include the following congressional or statewide offices:
- US Senate
- US House (District will vary, but every district will be voting)
- Governor of Arkansas
- Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
- Attorney General
- Secretary of State
- Auditor of State
- Commissioner of State Lands
- Arkansas Supreme Court Position 2
Too many things on the ballot will vary based on your location to go over them all, but the ballot measures deserve extra attention because they can often be confusingly or even misleadingly worded. Here is a brief overview of each ballot measure:
- Arkansas Issue 1, Legislative Authority to Call a Special Session Amendment (2022)
- Voting Yes on Issue 1 would allow the State Legislature to call itself into special sessions.
- Currently, only the Governor is allowed to call a special session. Arkansas is one of only 14 states where that is the case.
- The state legislature would be able to call itself into special sessions via either a) a joint proclamation from the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore or (b) upon a proclamation signed by two-thirds of the members in each chamber.
- Arkansas Issue 2, 60% Supermajority Vote Requirement for Constitutional Amendments and Ballot Initiatives Measure (2022)
- Voting Yes on Issue 2 would raise the requirement for a successful ballot measure from a simple majority (over 50%) to a supermajority (60%), making it significantly more difficult to pass any citizen-initiated constitutional amendments or state statutes.
- This would not apply to veto referendums, which are meant to repeal laws. Essentially, it would become harder for citizens to directly create new laws, but not to remove old ones.
- Only 11 states require more than a simple majority in a general election or some other extra criteria to enact a constitutional amendment. If Issue 1 passed, Arkansas would be the only state that required more than a simple majority to adopt any citizen-initiative state statute. This means that Arkansan citizens would find it more difficult to change their own laws than citizens of almost any other state.
- Arkansas Issue 3, Government Burden of Free Exercise of Religion Amendment (2022)
- Voting Yes on Issue 3 would amend the state constitution to restrict the state government’s ability to “burden a person’s freedom of religion” even in the case of a “rule of general applicability,” meaning in this case a law that does not specifically target religion.
- Since rules of general applicability are neutral towards issues like free speech and religion, they are significantly harder to challenge on those fronts. If passed, a person could cite this amendment in a claim or defense against the government for any law they feel violates their religious freedom.
- The amendment would also more specifically outline what would qualify as
- Supporters call it a move to strengthen religious freedoms, while opponents have criticized it by noting that similar laws in other states have been used to attack non-descrimination protections, access to contraception, and any other laws that a particular religious organization might be opposed to.
To find out exactly what will be on your ballot come November, you can use this ballot sample lookup from Ballotpedia by simply entering your address. They have information on individual candidates and ballot issues presented in a clear and non-partisan manner. You can also visit the website of the Arkansas Secretary of State to find even more election information, from voter registration applications to absentee and military voting and more.