Secretary of state completes first step toward counting signatures July 19, 2022 By Griffin Coop The secretary of state’s office has completed the first step toward counting the nearly 200,000 signatures Responsible Growth Arkansas submitted earlier this month in its attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas, the office’s press secretary said Monday. The office has finished the intake process in which the staff must organize the hundreds of boxes, pages and signatures that the industry-backed group turned in on July 8. The secretary of state has 30 days from the date of submission to verify the signatures. “It’s a very tedious process,” said Press Secretary Chris Powell, who previously worked in the office’s elections division. Working out of a suite in an office park in Little Rock’s Riverdale neighborhood, the secretary of state’s staff has finished the process of counting the pages and signatures and verifying the canvassers and notaries for the Responsible Growth submission, Powell said. Canvassers must be Arkansas residents over the age of 18 and must be U.S. citizens, according to the Secretary of State’s 2022 Initiatives and Referenda Handbook. “There’s a whole checklist of things that they go through before they actually start verifying each signature through our database,” he said. Powell said the office had completed an initial count of the number of signatures but couldn’t release the number because it was unofficial and could be revised. The department has 16 temporary employees working on the verification process with more expected to join on Wednesday in addition to the office’s 11 regular staff who are working on the project, Powell said. The staff has begun working on the intake process for the other proposed amendment that was submitted on July 8. Submitted by Fair Play for Arkansas, that amendment would remove Pope County as a location for a casino that was approved by voters in 2018. Amendments must have at least 89,151 signatures and be certified by the state Board of Election Commissioners to qualify for the ballot.