Arkansas voters will decide whether or not they want shorter term limits for state representatives this fall. A recent ballot submitted by Arkansas Term Limits, a Ballot Question Committee advocating for stricter term limits for state representatives, was recently approved.
“I think 10 years is wonderful and I think it’s a good time,” says Tim Jacob, an Arkansas Term Limits spokesperson. “They still have a longer tenure than any statewide office and if eight years is good enough for the president of the United States, I think 10 years is good enough for a person representing a district in Arkansas.”
The current state term limits were approved by voters in 2014 which allowed senators and representatives to hold office for up to 16 consecutive years. Arkansas Term Limits says because of this the state has the “weakest term limits in the nation.”
“In 2014 [voters] didn’t get to [vote] because the ballot title was all about ethics. One of the most popular amendments in Arkansas history was stuck on page 16 and it was a campaign of silence,” says Jacob. “None of the voters were told what was in this amendment. They certainly weren’t told by the legislature. Zero advertisements, zero press releases and zero press conferences. That’s what they did to explain the longest amendment in Arkansas history.”
According to Jacob, he believes the voters have already decided and were tricked last election. “It wasn’t just inched out. It wasn’t just a 51-49 deal, it was in two landslide elections,” he explains. “The last time term limits was on the ballot we won 75 of 75 counties and 75 of 75 counties said no to the legislature when they tried to double their term.”
Jacob believes just because it is currently set to appear on the ballot doesn’t mean the proposal is safe.
“We think that any legislature that is willing to be deceptive to voters, we expect them to sue so voters won’t get a chance to vote on this,” he says. “We expect them to try and sue to get this off the ballot.”
If this ballot were to pass Jacob thinks shorter term limits is reasonable and healthy for a representative democracy.
“It brings representatives closer to the people and the most important reason is that the voters of this state have already decided in two landslide elections,” he says. “It’s time that the legislature listen to the voter’s will and respect the voter’s and respect the vote.”