- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A group opposed to a proposal expanding alcohol sales in Arkansas asked state election officials Monday to block the measure from the November ballot, claiming its petitions weren’t submitted by the right deadline.

An attorney for the group, Let Local Communities Decide for Themselves, asked Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office to not certify the proposal for the November ballot. The measure would legalize alcohol sales throughout Arkansas. Thirty-seven counties currently prohibit alcohol sales.

The group pushing for the expanded sales is gathering additional signatures after state officials last week said it fell short of the 78,133 needed from registered voters to qualify.

Attorney Elizabeth Robben Murray wrote that the petitions should have been submitted four months before the Nov. 4 election, or July 4, rather than the July 7 deadline used by the state. She notes that the state constitution cites the four-month timeline.

“I am not aware of any legal authority that allows the filing of Amendment 7 initiative petition on a statewide proposal to be delayed,” she wrote.

Murray asked Martin to not certify the proposal and to refuse any additional petitions submitted. Murray told The Associated Press it was likely the group would challenge the measure before the Supreme Court if enough signatures are submitted and Martin certifies it for the November ballot.

A spokeswoman for Martin’s office said he was reviewing the request.

The petitions for the expanded alcohol measure were submitted July 7, and state offices were closed on July 4 since it was a state and federal holiday. Petitions for another measure vying for a spot on the ballot - a proposal to gradually raise Arkansas’ minimum wage - were also submitted on July 7.

David Couch, chairman of Let Arkansas Decide, said he didn’t believe the complaint would have merit since most legal deadlines are pushed back to the next working day if there’s a holiday.

“I’m not overly concerned about it at all,” Couch said.

Martin’s office told Let Arkansas Decide, which is campaigning for the constitutional amendment to legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties, on Friday that it had fallen 17,133 signatures shy of the number needed to win a spot on the ballot. The group has until Aug. 18 to submit additional petitions.


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