Joint Statement on the Failed Restoration of Mississippi’s Ballot Initiative Process

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Friday, April 8, 2022

Joint Statement on the Failed Restoration of Mississippi’s Ballot Initiative Process

JACKSON, Miss. – Earlier this week, HC 39, legislation that sought to restore Mississippi’s ballot initiative process died after the Mississippi Legislature’s 2022 session came to an end. 

In May 2021, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Mississippi’s ballot initiative process invalid because of a technical error in the language detailing how the process works. Multiple proposals were announced this session in an effort to restore the process once again, but HC 39 quickly became the lone bill to advance through both the House and Senate. 

HC 39 was not a restoration of the previous ballot initiative process. It was a partisan attempt to make successful ballot initiative campaigns in Mississippi nearly impossible. The bill’s several restrictive measures, included:

  • Allowing the legislature to control the entirety of the rules that regulate the petition circulation process, without input from Mississippi citizens.
  • Stripping Mississippians’ of their ability to propose Constitutional Amendments while reserving that power only for the legislators themselves.
  • Providing the legislature the ability to override the will of the people if it disapproves an initiative’s final result.
  • Increasing the number of signatures needed to place an initiative on the ballot.
  • Increasing the voter approval threshold for revenue measures to 60%.

In response to HC 39’s failure to become law, Arekia Bennett-Scott, Executive Director of Mississippi Votes, and Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, issued the following joint statement:

“We are thankful for BISC’s steadfast support in ensuring Mississippi’s ballot initiative process is restored justly and correctly,” said Bennett-Scott. “BISC joined us in this fight to protect direct democracy from legislators who attempted to chip away at a tool of the people used to create change in their communities. We cannot let it stand; the initiative process is a people’s process, and a people’s process it must remain. We look forward to continuing our work with legislators in the near future to restore Mississippi’s ballot initiative process properly.”

“We are proud to stand with Mississippi Votes in their mission to protect the will of the people,” said Figueredo. “Some politicians in Mississippi are exploiting the circumstances created by the state Supreme Court to take control of the ballot initiative process away from the people and give it to the legislature, but this week, it failed to do so. The work that Mississippi Votes has done is essential to ensuring lawmakers in Mississippi fulfill their obligations to restore a more equitable process and protect this tool of democracy.”

If you would like to speak with BISC Executive Director Chris Melody Fields Figueredo regarding the failed restoration of Mississippi’s ballot initiative process and the national effort to protect this essential tool of direct democracy, please reach out to Ned Cooper at [email protected] or (401) 965-0060.