Signatures needed to help end state gerrymandering
A group known as Arkansas Voters First is attempting to get a ballot initiative in front of voters in the fall that could help to end partisan gerrymandering in Arkansas. But because of a recent stay in a decision allowing signatures to be gathered without witnesses due to covid-19, the group is under significant pressure to gather the needed number by the deadline. They are planning drive-through signature collection events Saturday, June 27. Information about these events can easily be found online.
If approved by voters, the initiative would establish an independent commission to draw district lines after the census results are tabulated. Previously, the Arkansas Legislature has done this. And predictably, their goal is often to make it easier for the party in power to hold seats in elections. This is commonly done by grouping opposing voters into fewer districts, so that races are less competitive overall. It flies in the face of democratic principles, and both sides of the political spectrum are opposed to it. To the point, a 2019 poll by the Brennan Center found only 2 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of it.
Arkansas is widely seen as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, and now it will be up to its citizens to allow voters the option in November to make the process of redistricting less partisan. In the meantime, please make sure you and your elderly and disadvantaged neighbors and family respond to the census. The results not only determine the numbers of representatives for our state, but also the allocation of federal tax revenue, all the way down to school lunch programs at the local level.
Correcting past tragedy not done with violence
The demonstrations I have seen over the past few weeks in the broadcast media and read about in the printed news suggest our country is moving from a democracy toward a mobocracy.
While the history of our country is replete with instances where the rights of minorities have been trampled on, correcting that tragic behavior in a democracy is not done with a raised, clinched fist.