Group needs over 3,800 more valid signatures for Craighead Co. wet/dry issue

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Falling nearly 4,000 signatures short, Our Community, Our Dollars will have 10 more days to gather the valid signatures needed to get the wet/dry issue on the November ballot.

Monday afternoon, Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday released the latest numbers on the issue.

On July 7, the group, backed by WalMart and Kum & Go, had to submit 19,958 signatures. According to Holliday, 21,180 names were submitted to his office, but a percentage of those were thrown out.

"Typically, the threshold for signatures that are just tossed for one reason or another, typically runs between 20 and 30 percent and that's true with this petition as well," Holliday said.

Holliday explained that 5,032 signatures were rejected because they were either unregistered voters in Craighead County or the petitions were from outside of the jurisdiction. Holliday said a few pages submitted to his office were for petitions to get the wet/dry issue on the ballot for Faulkner and Saline counties.

Though the group submitted enough raw signatures on July 7, they only submitted 1,222 over their initial goal. For those against seeing Craighead County wet, those numbers mean a lot.

"The outside corporate groups have spent well over a million dollars here and they still fell barely 25% short of their minimum goal," Brian Richardson, Chairman for Local Citizens for Safety and Prosperity told Region 8 News.

In their latest Ethics Commission financial filings, Our Community, Our Dollars reported one million dollars spent in Craighead, Faulkner and Saline counties.

"It's obvious that the support for this issue decreased as time went on. The more time they had to think about it that the more likely they were to decide that they like Craighead County the way it is," Richardson said.

Our Community, Our Dollars has until July 31 to collect another 3,810 valid signatures but they tell Region 8 News that this is all part of the process and nothing they didn't expect.

"We appreciate the hard work of the County Clerk and staff in reviewing the signatures; we know it’s a lot of work. We have been gathering signatures during the validation period and will continue to do so over the next 10 days," Our Community, Our Dollars President, Jay Allen said. "Our goal continues to be focused on giving the residents of Craighead County the opportunity to vote on this issue in November. Residents haven’t voted on the wet/dry issues for decades, so we feel it’s time."

Once the group can no longer collect signatures, Holliday's office will one again check the validity of the signatures and on August 5, Holliday said we'll know whether the issue is dead in the water or on the ballot for voters to decide.

If it's the latter, Richardson said their battle will continue.

"If this thing gets on the ballot, we're not just gonna let WalMart and Kum & Go buy this election," Richardson said.

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