AR Senate Bill 821


State: Arkansas
Signed: April 22, 2013

Effective: April 22, 2013
Chapter: Act No. 1413


Senate Bill 821 was enacted in response to documented instances of fraud related to the filing of referendum and initiative petitions in 2012 and classifies certain misconduct by Notaries as Class A misdemeanors.


Adds Section 7-9-126 to and amends Section 7-9-103 of the Arkansas Code.

  1. In addition to a Notary knowingly failing to witness a canvasser’s affidavit either by witnessing the signing of the instrument in person and either personally knowing the signer or by being presented with proof of the identity of the signer, provides that a person commits a Class A misdemeanor if the person, acting as a Notary: (a) signs a name other than his or her own to an initiative or referendum petition; (b) prints a name, address, or birth date other than his or her own to a petition unless the signer requires assistance due to disability and the person complies with Section 7-9-103; (c) solicits or obtains a signature to a petition knowing that the person signing is not qualified to sign the petition; or (d) knowingly pays a person any form of compensation in exchange for signing a petition as a petitioner.
  2. Provides that a petition part and all signatures appearing on the petition part shall not be counted for any purpose by the official charged with verifying the signatures, including the initial count of signatures, if the canvasser verification is not notarized, is notarized by more than 1 Notary, or lacks a Notary signature or a Notary seal.

Senate Bill 821 addresses fraud in connection with initiative and referendum petitions. Evidently, in 2012 sponsors of 4 separate initiative petitions submitted petitions to the Secretary of State containing over two 298,000 purported signatures of registered voters. Of the 4 petitions submitted, none had an initial validity rate in excess of 56%, and 3 of the petitions had an initial validity rate below 31%. Furthermore, in connection with the 3 petitions with the lowest initial validity rate, there were widespread instances of apparent fraud, forgery, and false statements in the signature-gathering process. SB 821 targets canvassers, sponsors, agents of sponsors and Notaries. The new law makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a Notary to knowingly fail to properly witness a canvasser's affidavit as specified under the law and to engage in specified acts of misconduct in notarizing initiative and referendum petitions.

Read Senate Bill 821.