Randolph Co. residents will not vote on alcohol issue in November

Randolph County Wet/Dry Issue Update

RANDOLPH COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - If you are a registered voter in Randolph County, you will not be allowed to vote for or against a measure to make the county wet or keep it dry after a judge handed down his ruling Tuesday afternoon.

Circuit Judge Phil Smith ruled in a bench trial after deliberating for several days.

A lawsuit filed by Keep Revenue in Randolph County and two Randolph County residents requested the judge recount the petitions volunteers collected since January for the local option ballot.

The group claimed County Clerk Rhonda Blevins threw out valid signatures.

During the trial, Smith heard from both groups.

He ultimately agreed with Blevins on the fact that she threw out entire "sheets" of signatures after she found issues with the petitions. However, he also ruled that some signatures were improperly tossed aside.

The changes still did not meet the threshold to move the petition to the November ballot.

Linda Bowlin, chair of the Keep Revenue in Randolph County committee, expressed her disappointment in the decision Tuesday.

"I speak for the committee, and I think for approximately 4,100 Randolph County voters who signed the petition, in saying we are disappointed," Bowlin said in a statement to Region 8 News. "We certainly, however, respect the court's ruling on this matter. We have learned a lot in this process and I expect that we will regroup and lay plans for future efforts. The people of this county should have the opportunity to someday have their votes heard."

Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins said she was very happy with the work her office did on the case and the decision.

She said they followed the law and will continue to do so.

"I just wish that some of the people would have decided to let the process finish before we started to be attacked, however, we rose above all the negativity and we continued to serve the citizens," Blevins said.

Randolph County residents also felt similar emotions.

Some were upset they were not given the chance to vote and others were relieved.

Stephanie Berger, a mother of 2, said she is very happy she will not see it in November.

"I didn't want it on the ballot in the first place because I don't want it put in front of our children where they can see it and have accessibility of it," Berger said.

Others, like Joshua Tippitt, have an opinion that's different than Berger's.

"Generally, I think the alcohol issue, as opposed to other issues, is a lot harder to get on the ballot in the first place," Tippitt said. "I think that if we had a chance to vote on the issue, that would be beneficial to the community."

Tippitt continued to say that if the county had the chance to vote, he thinks Randolph County become a wet county.

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