Statewide and countywide alcohol petitions fall short on signatures

The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment and the Saline County alcohol petition has fallen short on the number of signatures needed to make the ballot.

The countywide petition lacked 4,032 signatures, said Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis.

The petition was filed July 7 with 2,888 pages of signatures. Approximately 4,406 signatures were rejected, Curtis said.

A signature can be rejected if the person is not registered in Saline County or if things "don't match up," he said.

"We're not handwriting experts, and we give them the benefit of the doubt," he said.

The group, Our Community, Our Dollars, that has been working to gather signatures will have 10 days, starting today, to receive more signatures, Curtis said.

Let Arkansas Decide, the organization collecting signatures for the statewide issue, fell 17,133 signatures short, said Secretary of State Mark Martin.

Let Arkansas Decide is a group seeking a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize retail alcohol sales in all of the state's 75 counties. The campaign needs 78,133 signatures to qualify for the November ballot and currently has produced signatures from 61,000 registered voters.

On July 7, the campaign turned in almost 85,000 signatures. Several hundred were disqualified for facial failures before being checked to see if the signatures belonged to valid, registered voters.

The findings mean that the campaign has 30 days to meet the requirement of 78,133 signatures.

Canvassers never stopped collecting signatures throughout this process.

Currently, about half of the counties in Arkansas are dry. The amendment would immediately allow retailers to petition for beer and limited wine sales in grocery and convenience stores and also would allow applications for retail liquor store permits, based on population.