LITTLE ROCK, Ark (KTHV) -- Three groups pushing for amendments on the November ballot are facing another deadline to get the signatures needed.
Sheffield Nelson's severance-tax proposal-if passed- would raise the state's rate on natural gas but did not pass due to issues with the signatures. Tuesday morning Nelson announced he would suspend his work to gather more signatures for the ballot.
"I said it was going to be a mountain climb, not a hill, if we tried to make up 40,000 signatures. I honestly felt that we would be 10 or 15,000 short. At the most! And anybody who says you can't anticipate some being kicked out has never run one of these campaigns and don't know what they're talking about. Because quite simply you're always going to have signatures that are not accepted. The number that was not accepted shocked me!" says Nelson.
He says he will suspend his push for signatures to change the ballot but will reach a decision by next Monday or Tuesday.
"I think that you've got to look at things analytically. You've got to be realistic. It's a long hard haul to get 40,000+ signatures when you didn't get but 20,000 in the first round. It just doesn't make sense." says Nelson.
He points to recent derogatory political ads and claims against him of petition fraud as two reasons for his group's lack of validated signatures.
Meanwhile, Nancy Todd's push to bring casinos to the Natural State failed to get enough signatures. But she says she has 30 days to get the signatures and she is confident it will happen.
"Setting up the system is what takes the time because everybody knows we only had 6 weeks and it took us a good two and a half weeks during that to just get people in the field, get familiar with gathering the signatures, what to ask, what data needed to be filled out. Now we've added the voter registration form in with that too because so many people are not registered to vote in Arkansas." says Todd.
The Secretary of State rejected another proponent for casinos last week. Texas developer Michael Wasserman says he MAY take his issue to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
The medical marijuana proposal spokesperson/supporter Melissa Fults of Little Rock says her issue also did not win over enough signatures in the time alotted. She said Tuesday her team was worried, but now they're hopeful.
Fults says Saturday, July 28, volunteers are gathering across the state to collect more signatures. She says, "Our volunteers are deeply committed to this cause. Many of them are ill themselves, or caring for sick family members, and yet they're out in the heat every day to bring this issue to the ballot. That's compassion."
People interested in participating can contact ACC Statewide Volunteer Coordinator, Gene Remley at (501) 258-2806.
To be considered valid, a petition must have an authentic signature of a registered Arkansas voter.