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Exploring the ways Issue 1 amends the state Constitution

interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

proved four new constitutional amendments, including Issue 1, which garnered more than 70 percent of the vote, with 747,856 votes for and 317,093 votes against, and codified several new ethically-minded reforms. In fact, there are four ways that Issue 1 amends the Arkansas Constitution. First, it extends the length of terms for county elected officials from two years to four years. Second, Issue 1 precludes county elected officials from simulta- neously being appointed or elected to a civil office during their terms. Tird, it defines “infamous crime” for the purposes of de- termining who is eligible to run for or continue to hold an elected position. Finally, Issue 1 allows candidates who are unopposed to be elected without their name appearing on the ballot. It may be difficult to predict exactly how the Arkansas Supreme Court will define each of these provisions, but some insight on how similar provisions have been interpreted and other background informa- tion will help understand exactly what each part of Issue 1 means for county elected officials going forward.

T Four-Year Terms

Te main focus of Issue 1, or at least the part of Issue 1 that most people are familiar with, is an extension of the length of the term in office for county elected officials from two years to four years. Starting in the 2018 midterm election, county judges, sheriffs, circuit clerks, assessors, coroners, treasurers, county sur- veyors, county clerks and collectors will be elected to serve four- year terms. Justices of the peace, on the other hand, will still face re-election every two years. Issue 1 is the most recent adjustment Arkansans have made to the length of terms and term limits at various levels of state and local government in the last 30 years. In 2014, Arkansans extended the total number of years someone can serve in either chamber of the Arkansas General Assembly, after first enacting term limits for the legislature in 1992. In 1984, Ar- kansas was one of the last states to extend the length of terms for the governor from two years to four years when it passed Amend- ment 63. Arkansas adopted two-year terms for the governor in the Constitution of 1874, as a rejection of the executive power that was exercised during the Reconstruction era, but eventually everyone came to a consensus that two years was not long enough for a governor to effectively manage his or her administration. In


here are many provisions in Arkansas law that in- dicate that this great state and its people hold their public servants to a high moral standard. At the close of the 2016 General Election, Arkansans ap-

“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m

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the mid-1980s, when Amendment 63 was enacted, the Arkansas Gen- eral Assembly was in session bien- nially, which meant that the gov- ernor only had one shot to change policies or enact any reforms. It was also difficult to find people to serve as agency department heads for two years. Some of the same parallels can be made between the difficulties of a governorship that lasts two years and terms for coun- ty elected officials that last only two years. Finding and replacing staff every two years when a new administration is elected, and tackling long-term projects such as budgeting and planning that often take more than two years to complete, are made more dif- ficult by having such a short amount of time in office. Four-year terms will also give county elected officials the opportunity to spend more time focusing on the duties of their office, and less time on the campaign trail.

Sarah Giammo Law Clerk

Unopposed Candidates

Another relatively straightforward provision of Issue 1 concerns unopposed candidates. Now codified as Article 3 §13, it permits the legislature to enact laws electing candidates who face no chal- lengers without placing their names on the ballot. Tis means that when you go to vote, there will no longer be a list of the names of candidates running for office who are unopposed. Te provision further states that unopposed candidates will be “certified as elected in the same manner as if the candidate had been voted upon at the election.” In the usual manner of certifying elections results, the county board of election commissioners is required to announce preliminary vote totals and unofficial results as they come in on election night; then the board has no less than two and no more than 15 days to certify the election and transmit the results to the secretary of state. Finally, § 13 states that if no other offices or issues are on the ballot, no election will be held.

Infamous Crime Issue 1 also provides a much-needed definition for “infamous

crime.” Most people, upon hearing the phrase “infamous crime, are likely to respond by asking what exactly that means. Issue 1 seeks to answer that question. Before Issue 1 was passed, Article 5 § 9 of the Arkansas Constitution stated that anyone who had been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forg- ery or other “infamous crimes” was ineligible to run for office. Te definition of infamous crime has eluded Arkansas courts and


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