Jerry Adams, a spokesperson for SERT said unbeknownst to the group or Sharp County Clerk Tommy Estes a new law was passed in 2009 which changed the filing dates.
Tonya Powell, election coordinator with the Sharp County Clerk's office said on Aug. 11, the office received a fax from Batesville Attorney David Blair informing them of an ammendment in 2009 for petitions for initiated county measures.
Blair's fax indicated that the filing deadline was 90 days prior to the election, rather than 60, as was the case before the amendment. The clerk's office was not aware of the change in the filing procedure. Powell explained it was not the responsibility of the clerk's office to be aware of filing deadlines, but the responsibility was placed on the person or group filing the perspective petition.
The fax was also sent to county attorney Larry Kissee and Yota Shaw, who was formerly on the dry side of the issue during the 2008 attempt to get the issue on the ballot.
Powell indicated that the new law changed filing deadlines from 120 days being the earliest to file a petition to 90 days before the election being the latest.
Kissee then contacted Reynolds regarding the issue. Kissee's comments were reflected in a letter to Estes dated Aug. 12, stating, "I receive a letter from Mr. David Blair yesterday which inquired of me what steps will, or will not, be taken should any out-of-time initiative petitions be tendered to your office. I have reviewed Ark. Code. Ann.. 12-12-915 (b)(1) which was amended by Act 1480 of 2009. This code provision provides that initiative petitions can only be filed "not less than 90 calendar days and not more than 120 calendar days prior to the date established for the next regular election," Therefore, I am of the opinion that by the plain wording of this code provision your office cannot accept any initiative petition tentered to you after Aug. 4, 2010."
SERT representative Jerry Adams said the group took the petition to the clerk's office on Aug. 12, but it is still unclear if it will be on the ballot. Adams said, "It is ridiculous, all we want to do is to be able to vote."
Powell said, "As far as I know, it is over, they will have to start over collecting signatures because the petition says it was for the 2010 General Election."
Sharp County has been a dry county since 1946. In 2008, the issue did not get on the ballot when it fell short 210 signatures after Circuit Judge Phil Smith declared 461 signatures on the petitions were not valid. Reynolds said she has a 2010 booklet that still states the deadline as 90 days at the earliest and 60 days at the latest.
Reynolds has been instrumental in collecting over 5,000 signatures. Only 4,634 signatures from voters registered in the county were required to get the initiative on the ballot.