LITTLE ROCK — A group that opposes a proposal to allow statewide alcohol sales is asking the state Supreme Court to strike the measure from the November ballot.

LITTLE ROCK — A group that opposes a proposal to allow statewide alcohol sales is asking the state Supreme Court to strike the measure from the November ballot.


Citizens for Local Rights, a ballot question committee formed to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would make all 75 Arkansas counties wet, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court on Friday. The suit alleges that the group sponsoring the measure, Let Arkansas Decide, missed a deadline for submitting signatures and that the ballot language does not adequately explain the measure to voters.


The plaintiffs allege that Amendment 7 to the Arkansas Constitution requires signatures in support of a statewide ballot initiative to be submitted at least four months before an election, which in this case is on Nov. 4, but Let Arkansas Decide made its initial submission of signatures on July 7.


Secretary of State Mark Martin "lacked authority under Amendment 7 to accept or to certify the petitions filed on July 7, 2014, because those petitions were filed less than four months before the 2014 general election," the suit states.


The plaintiffs also allege that the measure’s ballot language fails to inform voters that it would do away with a state regulation that liquor stores not be located within 1,000 feet of a church or school and that it would take away communities’ right to hold referendum elections on whether to allow the sale of mixed drinks.


"The right to a referendum election on mixed drinks is material to the voters, and it would give them serious ground for reflection to know that this right will be taken away from them if the amendment is adopted," the suit states.


Little Rock lawyer David Couch, chairman of Let Arkansas Decide, said Friday that opposition to the proposed amendment is largely funded by county-line liquor stores that serve customers who live in adjacent dry counties.


"It’s not surprising to me that the liquor store owners have filed this lawsuit in order to keep the people from voting so that they can keep their monopolies," he said.


Couch said the signatures were submitted on July 7 because July 4 was a holiday and July 5-6 were weekend days.


"It’s the public policy of the state of Arkansas that any time a deadline falls on a holiday, that deadline is extended to the next business day," he said.


Couch also said the measure would not do away with existing regulations or the process that businesses must go through to obtain liquor licenses from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. He noted that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved the ballot language after rejecting three earlier versions.


Martin certified the measure for the ballot on Aug. 29. Couch said he learned Friday that more than 91,000 signatures in support of the measure had been verified.


"I think the Supreme Court will let the voters decide," he said.


The alcohol measure is not the only ballot issue that could be affected by the legal challenge. Supporters of a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage — which Martin certified for the ballot on Wednesday — also made their initial submission of signatures on July 7.