Bench trial set for suit against Randolph County Clerk

Wet Dry Lawsuit

RANDOLPH COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A bench trial has been set for the lawsuit against Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins. The suit comes after a dispute over the wet/dry issue, and the validity of petition signatures that were thrown out by her office.

The group "Keep Revenue in Randolph County" submitted nearly 4,000 signatures in July for their petition to get the wet/dry issue on the November ballot.

On July 28, Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins said the group was 483 signatures short of meeting their goal.

It was later learned that Blevins mistakenly threw out more than 200 names for having "bad signatures."

On Aug. 7, Keep Revenue in Randolph County submitted an additional 115 pages of signatures to be added to the local option petition.

According to court documents, they also submitted proof tending to show that the signatures rejected by Blevins in July were correct and should have been counted.

Despite those names being added back on, and the group collecting more signatures, Blevins announced Friday that the group was still 361 signatures short of their goal.

Randolph County resident and registered voter Chris Lynch said the issue isn't about making Randolph County wet, it's about making sure the voters' voices are heard.

"The numbers are very questionable, and that's been an issue from the very beginning," Lynch said. "It seems like instead of trying to make sure that people get a chance to get their voice heard, there's a concerted effort to make sure that voice is not being heard in Randolph County."

Court documents ask that Judge Phil Smith review the entire petition to determine whether or not enough signatures were collected.

If there are enough signatures, they ask that Rhonda Blevins "certify the sufficiency of the Petition and set an election date for Nov. 8.

The lawsuit also brings into question whole pages of signatures that were thrown out because petitioners from more than one county were on the page.

The bench trial begins Aug. 24 at 9 a.m.

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