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HomeWorldArkansas election officials reject petitions submitted for an abortion-rights ballot measure

Arkansas election officials reject petitions submitted for an abortion-rights ballot measure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas election officials on Wednesday rejected petitions filed for a vote on abortion rights that organizers hoped to put before voters this fall in a state that is predominantly Republican.

The Secretary of State’s office rejected the petitions filed Friday by proponents of the proposal, saying the group failed to file required statements regarding paid signature gatherers.

Organizers submitted more than 101,000 signatures Friday. They needed at least 90,704 signatures from registered voters and a minimum number from 50 counties.

In his letter to organizers, Secretary of State John Thurston wrote that even if his office accepted the signatures from volunteers, the total would be 87,382, short of the required number.

A spokesman for Arkansans for Limited Government, the group behind the measure, said its legal team is reviewing the state’s letter.

The measure would have banned laws that abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and allows the procedure later in pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, threats to the woman’s health or life, or if the fetus is unlikely to survive birth.

The United States Supreme Court the national right to abortion has been abolished with a 2022 ruling that a national push to get voters decide the case state by state. An Arkansas law banning abortion was in effect when the court issued its ruling. Arkansas’ current ban allows abortion only to protect the mother’s life in a medical emergency.

The proposal was seen as a test of support for abortion rights in a Republican state where top elected officials have previously spoken out against abortion.

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Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who opposed the measure, posted the following message on X after it was rejected: “Today, the far-left pro-abortion movement in Arkansas showed itself to be both immoral and incompetent.”

The proposal failed to gain support from national abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood because it would still have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It faced heavy opposition from abortion opponents in the state. One group, the Family Council Action Committee, published the names of people who collected signatures for the abortion measure and vowed to challenge the proposed constitutional amendment in court if it made it onto the ballot.

Thurston’s letter cited an Arkansas law that requires campaigners to file statements naming paid canvassers and indicating that each paid canvasser has been explained the rules for collecting signatures.

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