Did Austin resident Charles Blackburn gather enough voter signatures to qualify to run as an independent candidate against Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin, a Republican, and Democrat Norman Walker in the General Election in November?
Erwin believes Blackburn did not collect enough signatures. According to state law (A.C.A 7-7-103) The petition and other required documents must be filed with the county clerk and be signed by not less than 3-percent of the qualified electors in the county in which the candidate seeks office, based upon the total number of votes cast for governor in that county in 2018, but no more than 2,000 signatures would be required.
Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office recorded Lonoke County had 20,613 votes cast for the office of governor in 2018 general election. Blackburn needed to collect 618 signatures of verified registered voters when he submitted his petition on May 2 to be on the ballot in November.
Blackburn collected 605 signatures by the deadline. Of those, 470 signatures were eligible valid voters. Erwin told The Leader, “According to the secretary of state’s office’s official records, Mr. Blackburn didn’t turn in enough necessary signatures to run as an Independent candidate.”
However, according to the Lonoke County clerk’s office, their records had 12,243 registered voters cast their vote for governor in the 2018 general election. Going by the clerk’s office total, Blackburn only needed 366 verified signatures to be on the ballot, which he did.
County Clerk Dawn Porterfield told The Leader, “(Charles Blackburn) does have enough signatures and will be certified to be on the ballot in November.”
Blackburn said, “I’m concerned about the numbers. It’s put me on hold for billboards and fliers. I got the call I was certified to be on the ballot; unless the Judge doesn’t want an opponent, because he knows I can win.”