LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Attorney General Tim Griffin said Monday that his office had certified the ballot language for a referendum on the Arkansas LEARNS Act.
The certification is the first step of approval of the LEARNS Act being up to voters in the November 2024 election.
Griffin stated that accepting the proposed referendum was based strictly on the referendum title being deemed as not misleading.
“The legislature has authorized the Attorney General to reject a ballot title for only one reason: if it is misleading. Because this ballot title largely cuts and pastes at great length from LEARNS, I cannot conclude that it is misleading. I have therefore certified it,” Griffin said in a statement.
Griffin continued that the ballot title’s 8,000-word length makes it the longest in Arkansas history “by a large margin.” He indicated that the Arkansas Supreme Court may still reject the ballot title due to its complexity.
“The Court has cited length and complexity as major factors in rejecting ballot titles with 550, 587, 709 and 727 words,” he said. “The Arkansas Supreme Court will be the sole arbiter of whether this ballot title is too lengthy and complex if it is challenged at a later stage in the referendum process.”
The ballot title was largely cut and pasted from the LEARNS Act, Griffin said.
The LEARNS Act was a cornerstone of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sander’s election campaign and legislative agenda. The Arkansas legislature passed the act quickly during its most recent session.
Two previous submissions to Griffin’s office were rejected based on the proposed ballot title. The submissions were made by the Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students group, also known as CAPES.
The ability for schools to take action under the LEARNS Act is currently on hold due to a case challenging the timeline for the measure’s implementation. The Arkansas Supreme Court is due to receive initial briefings from both sides of that case Tuesday.
CAPES chairwoman Veronica McClane released a statement, saying:
In order to successfully proceed with their petition, CAPES must collect a minimum of 54,422 verified and notarized signatures from registered voters across 50 counties in Arkansas by July 31.
Arkansans interested in signing the petition can visit the CAPES website at SayNoToLEARNS.org.