The Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino operations throughout the state — a measure being guided by professional poker player Nancy Todd.
The proposal would have allowed casinos in Crittenden, Franklin, Miller and Pulaski counties.
The state’s high court determined that Todd’s change to the ballot title after signatures were gathered was improper.
“Although this case raises at least four separate issues, the primary question presented is whether a sponsor of an initiated amendment may attach one ballot title to her petition and then ask respondent to certify another. We hold that she may not,” wrote Justice Jim Gunter in the unanimous majority opinion.
Todd told reporters that she was disappointed in the ruling.
She had collected tens of thousands of ballot signatures with a ballot title that made no reference to how her casino amendment might impact “games of skill” casino-style gambling at Hot Springs-based Oaklawn and West Memphis-based Southland Park.
After Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) raised questions about the ballot title’s sufficiency, Todd altered the ballot title after collecting the required signatures.
“Our constitution and election code require the sponsor of an initiated amendment to provide potential signatories an opportunity to review the exact ballot title and complete measure,” Gunter wrote.
“If we were to accept intervenors’ invitation and hold that only the text of the measure need be submitted to the voters during the canvassing process, manifest injustice would result because voters would be forced to discern the nature of the proposed measures without any aid. We therefore confirm the basic principle that the ballot title is not an extraneous luxury, but is part and parcel of any valid initiative petition,” he added.
You can access the full opinion from the Supreme Court here.