Benton County Alcohol Sales Vote is on Ballot

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A measure to allow liquor sales in Benton County has no obstacles until the public vote in the November election.

Business closed Thursday at the County Clerk’s office without anyone legally challenging the petition and signatures submitted in support of the measure. Anyone with opposition had until 4:30 p.m. to appeal the certification of the signatures.

“I know of no further impediment between now and Nov. 6,” said Marshall Ney, spokesman for Keep Dollars in Benton County, the group that has been gathering signatures since early this year. “We’ll officially turn our attention to the ‘get out the vote’ effort.”

Benton County Clerk Tena O’Brien formally certified enough signatures July 23 to put a question on the 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. Workers finished verifying the required 41,171 signatures, 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.

Keep Dollars in Benton County 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.