Mississippi should restore the ballot initiative and make voting easier, D. Ryan Grover says. The 34-year-old Democrat is challenging incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, 76, for his job in Tuesday’s statewide elections.
“In what democracy are people not allowed to have an opinion? You know, we’re totally beholden to our government, our state government, and the people have to have a say in it,” he told the Mississippi Free Press on Oct. 12. “And what’s been happening is that (Republican legislators) wanted to keep adding stipulations to the ballot initiative.”
On May 14, 2021, the Mississippi Supreme Court nullified the citizen-led ballot initiative process and the medical-marijuana program, which 68% of Mississippi voters chose in the 2020 election, based on a technicality. It was the second time in 99 years that Mississippi’s highest court had taken the right to put issues on the ballot away from voters.
Voters adopted the most recent ballot-initiative system in the 1990s under Section 273 of the Mississippi Constitution. The law says that citizens who want to get an issue on a ballot must gather one-fifth of the total required signatures from each of the five congressional districts. But Mississippi lost a congressional district after the 2000 Census. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled no ballot initiative can be valid with just four congressional districts.
Grover said restoring the ballot initiative is simple: legislators just need to update Section 273’s language to fit four congressional districts instead of five. To do that, lawmakers would have to put a referendum on the ballot to change the Constitution, and voters would have to adopt it.
“Day one (when) I get elected, we’re going to restore the ballot initiative ASAP because there’s no excuse for (legislators) to have not fixed that, especially whenever all they have to do is change a five to a four for the congressional districts,” he said. “That’s literally all they have to do. And it’s been three years now, and they’ve been unable to do it.”
An effort to restore ballot initiatives failed earlier this year as Republican lawmakers clashed over how a
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