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Arkansas Voters Sue State Over Issue 7 Disqualification

Three Arkansas voters are suing the state arguing they have been disenfranchised due to the state Supreme Court’s disqualifying of the Issue 7, or the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. The lawsuit seeks to allow early voters who voted for the measure to be able to correct their vote — and support Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment — through an affidavit.

The Supreme Court struck down the initiative on Oct. 27, four days after early voting had commenced and more than 144,000 had cast their vote, after invalidating some of the signatures gathered during the petition process, leaving the measure with too few signatures to appear.

According to the lawsuit, the two voters from Marion County and one from Pulaski County claim that they would have voted for Issue 6 if it were the only measure on their ballot. The lawsuit is also asking that the court require election officials to ensure that volunteers at polling places are aware of the Issue 7 situation.

“Whatever notice is required in order to comply with due process in this highly unusual situation, the notice being provided at present does not meet the requirements of federal law,” Jack Wagoner, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said in the lawsuit. He estimates that as few as 10 percent and as many as 20 percent had already cast their ballot before Issue 7’s disqualification.

“This complaint seeks to ensure that the election complies with due process and is less vulnerable to challenge regardless of the outcome,” Wagoner wrote in the lawsuit. “This means attempting to create a voting environment where a voter cannot help but be informed that votes for Issue 7 will not count.”

According to the lawsuit, the “best manner possible” to notify voters is for election officials to hand out notices to voters on Election Day or prominently display signage that reads:

“Notice: Although you will still see Issue Seven (7) on your ballot, if you vote for Issue Seven (7), the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that your vote will not be counted. The only remaining issue on the ballot related to medical marijuana is Issue Six (6). Voters for or against Issue Six (6) will still be counted.”

The case was assigned to Senior United States District Judge James S. Moody Jr.

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