Mississippi’s initiative laws allow citizens to amend constitutional issues not addressed by the State Legislature. In the 2011 General Election, Mississippians voted on three separate issues through the initiative process: Definition of a Person, Voter Identification, and Eminent Domain. Two initiatives, Voter Identification and Eminent Domain, passed.

This year, Mississippians will vote on Initiative Measure #42 and Alternative Measure #42A regarding public school funding. This is the first time in our history the State Legislature has offered a competing amendment to the initiative process. I encourage Mississippians to educate themselves on this issue prior to Election Day.

The initiative process is set forth in the State Constitution. For an initiative to be placed on the ballot, a minimum of 107,216 certified signatures must be gathered, with at least 21,444 certified signatures from each of the five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. This required number of signatures represents twelve percent of the total number of votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial election. Signatures must be certified by county circuit clerks before the completed petition is filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. For a measure to pass, the number of votes in favor the an initiative must be equal to or more than 40% of the total votes cast at the election

State law requires our Agency to hold public hearings in each congressional district on the measure. For Initiative Measure #42 and Alternative Measure #42A, we will hold eight. The Secretary of State’s Office has scheduled more hearings than required in geographically proportionate areas of the State to encourage voter education and participation. In addition to public hearings, our Agency will also publish an informative brochure outlining both sides of the public education funding issue.

I encourage you to attend one of the public hearings, read our educational brochure, and review our website for public comments and further information. Be informed when you head to the polls to decide this issue.

As always, if we may be of any assistance, we encourage you to contact our Elections Hotline at 1-800-829-6786.

We will see you at the polls.