Benton County Clerk Certifies Wet/Dry Signatures

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Benton County Clerk Tena O’Brien said she formally certified enough signatures Monday to put a question on the Nov. 6 ballot allowing voters to decide whether to allow retail alcohol sales in the county.

O’Brien submitted the Certification of County Clerk to the Benton County Board of Commissioners prior to Monday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline, she said. Workers finished verifying the required 41,171 signatures on Sunday but certified additional signatures to provide a “cushion,” O’Brien said.

The 41,171 signatures needed to put the issue before the public is 38 percent of the 108,346 voters registered in Benton County on June 1, she said.

If voters approve the ballot question, alcohol sales could begin 30 days after the November election, O’Brien said.

The final number of signatures her office certified Monday is 43,295, or 2,124 more than required, she said. Those signatures were collected on 3,145 sheets of paper, O’Brien said.

The group Keep Dollars in Benton County has been gathering signatures since early this year and, according to O’Brien, submitted 56,635 signatures to the clerk’s office on July 12 for certification. Most of the money paid to a Georgia firm to gather the signatures came from Walmart fortune heirs Tom and Steuart Walton. Each contributed $180,000 to the effort, records show.

Anyone wanting to contest the certified signatures has until Aug. 2 to file an appeal in Benton County Circuit Court, O’Brien said. The court has 10 days after that to evaluate the signatures, she said.

Marshall Ney, spokesman for Keep Dollars in Benton County, said in a tweet Monday, “We appreciate the hard work of the County Clerk and her staff in validating these in such a timely manner.”

County officials worked Saturday and Sunday validating the signatures.

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