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Arkansas PoliticsRead

Attack on the Republican State Convention?

By Conduit for Action

On May 18th 2024, the State Committee of the Republican Party of Arkansas will consider a proposed rule change to diminish the ability of the Arkansas Republican State Convention to adopt rule changes and platform resolutions.

Why is this issue important to the Republican faithful in Arkansas? It is important because the State Convention is the organization most closely representing the Republican grassroots (county committees).

(Throughout this article there are references to the “State Convention” and the “State Committee” since the names are so similar, the reader needs to remember these are two distinct Republican bodies.)

The proposal submitted to the State Committee would impose an increased vote requirement for the State Convention to be able to pass a rule change or pass a platform resolution. Under the longstanding rules of the Republican Party of Arkansas the State Convention needs a majority vote to pass a rule change or adopt a platform resolution, but the proposal would increase that to a two-thirds vote.

The proposal is being sold as bringing about consistency and fairness among all Republican bodies. The explanation preceding the proposed rule change claims that both the State Committee and County Committees must have a two-thirds vote for rules changes, and to be consistent the State Convention should meet the same vote requirement.

Their argument about consistency and fairness fails for the following three reasons.


The argument for consistency claims both the State Committee and County Committees must have a two-thirds vote to amend their respective rules.  They left out a very important fact about County Committees and what they left out counters their consistency argument.

While a County Committee must have a two-thirds vote to amend its local rules when considered at one of its regular meetings, when a County Committee meets as the County Convention a rule change only needs to receive a majority vote. The vote required at a COUNTY CONVENTION and at the STATE CONVENTION are the same, a majority.

The rules are already consistent. Notice how the words “convention” and “majority” vote to amend rules go together. When a convention is held, whether it be at the state level or county level, rule changes may be adopted with a majority vote.  And, when a rule change is proposed at something other than a convention (State Committee meeting or regular meeting of a County Committee), the higher  two-thirds vote is required.

As has been stated, the explanation preceding the proposed rule change misstates the facts about consistency and fairness. But that is not its only failure.  Even If the State Committee imposes a two-thirds vote on the State Convention, there will still not be the consistency they claim. Why? Because a County Convention will still be able to amend local rules with a majority vote.

If you want consistency the proposed rule should be defeated. The consistency under the current rules is a majority vote is required when there is a convention (state or county) and when the issue is considered outside of a convention the vote required is a two-thirds vote.


When the proposal argues for consistency in vote requirements, it talks about both rule changes and platform resolutions. Intended or not, the way the explanation is written is a sleight of hand. Consistency can’t be an argument to increase the vote required for the State Convention to pass a platform resolution. Why? Because the State Convention is the ONLY body that can pass a platform resolution.


It is no accident that the state rules require a higher vote by the State Committee. Having a different vote requirement recognizes the different nature and abilities of the two bodies. Requiring a higher vote for the State Committee is appropriate because:

  • The State Convention is recognized by the rules as the “final authority in all party matters” whereas the State Committee holds power “delegated” to it between State Conventions. The State Convention is clearly the superior body under party rules, and it is appropriate for the lower body to meet a higher standard for passing rules.
  • Despite being the highest authority, the power of the State Convention is already diminished by the fact the State Convention only meets once every two years while the State Committee meets twice every year. The frequency of meetings gives the State Committee an advantage over determining rules.  The balance of power would be further skewed if the State Convention had to meet the same vote threshold as the State Committee.
  • It should be noted that the makeup of the two bodies are very different. The State Convention is made up of delegates selected by the County Committees. The State Committee has very few members selected from County Committees or Congressional District Committees. Some of the State Committee members include: appointees of the State Chair, officers of various auxiliary organizations, and elected officials. Many elected officials vote as a block. The State Convention, with its county delegates, is the higher authority, but the authority of delegates would be further eroded if the State Committee makes it harder for delegates to have an impact on the party rules and platform.


The only reason left for the rule change is a disrespect for the delegates of the State Convention, a disrespect by insiders who don’t trust delegates (the grassroots) and want to make it harder for those delegates to have an impact on party policy.

The explanation preceding the proposed rule argues: “We should hold our rules and platform in high regard and, as conservatives, be cautious in amending these documents. We should not be persuaded by the emotions of the day to act in haste, but instead act in transparency and firm support to make a change.

What is actually being said is: “We want to avoid addressing issues of the day, by keeping delegates from passing changes.”

The explanation says it doesn’t want delegates to “act in haste.” This is another smokescreen because the party has a process for reviewing proposals prior to the convention.

If anyone is acting in haste it is the supporters of the increased vote requirement. They submitted the proposed ruled to the State Committee, instead of waiting a few more months for it to be considered at the State Convention.  Could their haste to try to pass the proposed rule at the State Committee meeting be because the proposal is not as likely to passed if more time is given for deliberation and is considered by the State Convention by delegates selected by the County Committees?

The supporters of the proposed rule should be challenged to provide specific examples of what they think are bad decisions by the State Convention made because a rule or platform resolution passed by only a majority vote of the delegates.

It is time for insiders within the state party apparatus to embrace and support County Committees, Congressional District Committees, and the delegates to the Republican State Convention, instead of looking for ways to diminish them. A good start would be to pull down the proposal and let the State Convention do its job under the longstanding rules of the Republican Party of Arkansas.


Here is a link to the proposed rule on votes required. It is listed as Proposed Rule Change #2.

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