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Texan challenges rejection of casino amendment

July 18, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — A Texas businessman is challenging the Arkansas secretary of state’s rejection of his ballot proposal to operate casinos in the state.

Michael Wasserman sent a letter to Secretary of State Mark Martin’s on Wednesday appealing Martin’s ruling last week that backers of Wasserman’s proposed constitutional amendment to operate casinos in seven Arkansas counties — including Jefferson County — failed to meet signature requirements.

Wasserman said in an interview that the secretary of state’s decision was “semi-ridiculous” and that state law gives him an additional days to address the signature deficiencies.

State law requires that signatures submitted in 15 counties must be equal to at least 5 percent of the votes cast for governor in 2010. The secretary of state’s office said last week that Wasserman submitted 87,777 signatures from 16 counties, but signatures in Prairie, Saline and Woodruff counties were short of the 5 percent threshold.

In his letter appealing the secretary of state’s decision, Wasserman said the provision Martin cited does not apply in his case, and that even it if did, he should be given 30 days “for correction or amendment.”

“If you feel that the petition is insufficient due to your disqualification of certain voters or errors contained on the petition sheets, then it is the constitutionally mandated of the secretary of state to so inform the sponsor of the amendment and allow 30 days to correct or amend the petition,” Wasserman said in the letter.

Alex Reed, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said the office’s attorneys will review Wasserman’s challenge and should have a response “within a couple of days.”

Earlier this week, the group Stop Casinos Now challenged a separate proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize casino-style games in four counties in the state.

The attorney general is reviewing that challenge and will make a recommendation to the secretary of state’s office, which will make the final decision.


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