JACKSON, Miss. – Today, a new poll released by the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund (SPLC Action Fund) and the New Southern Majority IE PAC showed overwhelming bi-partisan support for restoring the state’s ballot initiative process.
The poll, conducted by Tulchin Research, shows that sixty-five percent65% of Mississippians support restoring a ballot initiative process with only 14% opposing and 21% percent undecided. The poll also found that 59% percent of Mississippians believe the state legislature has not done enough to restore ballot initiatives.
Prior to 2020, Mississippi had a process that required a majority in 5 congressional districts to introduce a ballot initiative, but the state supreme court struck it down on the grounds that Mississippi has only 4 congressional districts. A new law must be passed by the state legislature to restore the ballot initiative process in Mississippi. The SPLC has called for a ballot initiative process that makes it reasonably accessible for Mississippians to pass popular measures through a statewide vote, like the state had done in the past.
A memo containing the polling data can be found HERE: https://www.splcactionfund.org/sites/default/files/SPLC%20MS%20Statewide%20POLICY%20MEMO%20-%20%23446-V-%201-23%20-%20Final.pdf
“Mississippians overwhelmingly support restoring a ballot initiative process no matter their party affiliation, location, age, race or any other demographic,” said Sonya Williams Barnes, Mississippi Policy Director for the SPLC Action Fund. “Mississippians want a direct voice in their government, and they deserve a process that makes it reasonably easy to put the issues they want to see on the ballot. The time is now for Mississippi lawmakers to prioritize getting this done for the people of this state.”
61% of Mississippians support expanding Medicaid in order to save rural hospitals in danger of closing due to lack of funding.
67% of Mississippians support extending Medicaid postpartum care for mothers from 60 days to a year after birth.
71% of Mississippians believe the state legislature should not be allowed to hold meetings in private where they can avoid public transparency, knowledge and input.
When instituted in 1992 by the Mississippi Legislature, the ballot initiative process required that a certain number of signatures be gathered from each of the five congressional districts before a question could be put on the ballot. The state lost a congressional seat in 2000, and ballot initiatives proposed and passed since then relied on congressional districts as they existed in the 1990s.
The Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the ballot initiative in a 6-3 decision in 2020, ruling that the process had been void since 2000 because of the reduction in congressional districts. Their ruling resulted from a challenge to a 2020 voter-approved medical marijuana ballot initiative.
SPLC Action Fund is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. SPLC Action Fund is the 501(c)4 affiliate organization to the Southern Poverty Law Center. For more information, visit www.splcactionfund.org.