Citizens organizing to push for ballot initiatives to be restored
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You haven’t had the ability to sign off on a ballot initiative in Mississippi since 2021. But there’s a more organized effort to get a process restored in 2024.
The chorus of concerned voices is growing and getting more organized as we’re in the thick of campaign season and just months from lawmakers returning to the Capitol.
Ballot Access Mississippi is a group of citizens from around the state who are interested in restoring your right to amend our constitution. Spence Flatgard is hoping it’s a way to raise awareness and start the conversation.
“I’ve been active in different constitutional amendments,” explained Flatgard who is chair of Ballot Access Mississippi. “And I’ll tell you, it was actually an interview on WLBT. Y’all did a man-on-the-street interview. And on the last one, that viewer, that voter, said it meant a lot to me that I had the right to have my input and vote on it. And that struck a chord with me, and we need to give every Mississippian that right back.”
For business owner and veterinarian Dr. Jim Perkins, it’s not about a specific issue but the principle of citizens having the option.
“They are so involved with so many things sometimes I’m sure some of the things that people are really interested in passes them by,” noted Perkins who is a member of the Ballot Access Mississippi board. “They have a big job to do the lawmakers do and they’re overwhelmed a lot of times and so this will help bring their attention to some things that people are really interested in.”
Both candidates for Secretary of State, Michael Watson, and Ty Pinkins, have expressed their desire to see the process restored.
At his introductory press conference, Ty Pinkins said, “They’ve stripped away our ballot initiative process, completely eliminating our right to take issues directly to voters.”
Michael Watson said in a statement: “I have continuously emphasized the importance of Mississippi voters having another mechanism for their voices to be heard. With that said, it’s imperative to ensure these are, in fact, the voices and priorities of Mississippians, not wealthy out-of-state entities pushing their own agenda. Regarding the signature threshold, I trust our legislators to thoughtfully and diligently work through the process to create a threshold reflective of issues having a groundswell of support here in Mississippi.”
But neither have pointed to a specific signature threshold they’d like included.
Jonathan Brown is still cautiously optimistic after two sessions of failed attempts.
“I think people are paying attention,” added Brown who was an Initiative 65 organizer. “And I think that everybody involved in state government ought to realize that the biggest magnifying glass ever is on this process. And we are watching.”
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