TEXARKANA, Ark. — Bringing awareness to two Arkansas ballot issues was the purpose of a 10-foot-tall horse being drawn on a trailer by a truck Friday morning.
A sign on the horse read, "AGAINST Issues 2 & 3. STOP the Politicians' Trojan Horse."
The Trojan horse references the Greek story of a wooden horse left as a "gift" that was pulled inside the secure walls of Troy. The men hidden inside the horse would later sneak out and open the gate, letting their soldiers in to sack the city. It general terms, the term refers to tactics that present something in a way that seems innocent enough but actually represents a threat.
According to the political activists taking this wooden horse to Arkansas towns up to election day, Issues 2 and 3 can confuse voters at first glance.
"They are deceitful titles meant to mislead those who don't research these issues," said David Lindsay, part of the horse caravan, a Jacksonville, Arkansas, native and a lifelong Arkansan.
"A voter who shows up and sees the titles on the ballot box for the first time is far more inclined to vote for them. According to our research, voters who just see the title are 60% favorable towards them. After getting more information, they turn against to the tune of 70%."
Issue 2 would prohibit state senators and state representatives elected after Jan. 1 from serving more than 12 years in a row. However, those lawmakers, once they have served 12 years consecutively, would be able to serve again after taking a four-year break.
Current legislators and any legislator elected next month can serve under the current term-limit amendment, which allows them to serve 16 years. Arkansas has the highest number of years that people can serve, according to the University of Arkansas System'a Agriculture Division's Public Policy Center.
A "for" vote is in favor of changing the Arkansas Constitution regarding term limits. This would mean a limit of 12 consecutive years of service for legislators elected after 2020; allowing legislators who reach the 12-year limit to serve again once four years have passed.
An "against" would maintain the existing limit of serving up to 16 years in the Arkansas House of Representatives or Senate.
Issue 3 would make it virtually impossible for citizen-led groups to get measures on the ballot, and it would prevent the type of policies enacted through citizen-led initiatives such as raising the state's minimum wage and improving ethics laws, he opined.
Medical marijuana was legalized through an initiated constitutional amendment, as was establishing full-fledged casino gambling.
If approved, Issue 3 would change the date when voter signatures are due for statewide ballot measures proposed by the public. Instead of four months ahead of the general election, the due date would be set as Jan. 15 of the election year, according to the public policy center.
It would also increase the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected for statewide ballot measures and referendums proposed by the public, from 15 counties to 45 counties.
A "for" vote is in favor of changing the Arkansas Constitution regarding the process for the submission, challenge, and approval of proposed initiated acts, constitutional amendments and referenda. This includes moving up the date voter petitions are due, increasing the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected for all citizen-initiated ballot measures.
An "against" vote is not in favor of changing the Arkansas Constitution regarding the process for the submission, challenge, and approval of proposed initiated acts, constitutional amendments and referenda.
"We want people to have greater awareness of these issues," Lindsay said. "We just want them to go in with more information than they would get from the ballot alone."