In addition to choosing their elected officials, Mississippi voters will have the opportunity to vote on three ballot initiatives in November

Magnolia Flag

House Bill 1796 - Flag Referendum

Voters will have the choice of whether they want to make the flag recommended by a state-sponsored commission the official flag of Mississippi. The Legislature voted to retire the state’s 126-year-old flag in June, as it was the last in the nation to feature the Confederate battle emblem. The Legislature also created a commission to recommend a new design to voters. It was mandated that the commission’s final design include the words “In God We Trust” and not the Confederate battle emblem. On Sept. 2 the commission selected its final design after reviewing hundreds of submissions. If their proposed flag is not approved by voters, the commission will have to develop another proposal for voters in 2021. 

 

Initiative 65

Initiative 65 - Medical Marijuana

Mississippians who support medical marijuana will have to decide between two proposals in November. Groups used the state’s ballot initiative process to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters. Getting it on a statewide ballot required about 100,000 petition signatures from Mississippians across the state. If the citizen-sponsored Initiative 65 passes, it would approve the creation of a medical marijuana program outside the reach of the Legislature.  Lawmakers approved an alternative proposal in March. Much more restrictive and subject to regulation by the Legislature, “65A” would see medical marijuana legalized for people with “debilitating illnesses.” Supporters of the citizen-sponsored initiative say the legislative alternative is designed to confuse the voters and result in the defeat of both. One of the proposals has to receive votes equivalent to 40% of the total votes cast in the election for it to pass. 

 

MS Constitution

House Concurrent Resolution No. 47

Voters will have the option to remove a Jim Crow-era provision from the state Constitution that makes Mississippi the only state in the nation where a candidate for statewide office can win the popular vote, but still not be elected.

The provision, adopted in the Mississippi State Constitution in 1890, requires the winning candidate for statewide offices to receive both the popular vote and the most majority of the 122 House districts. If that criteria is not met, the election is decided by the Legislature. 

It has only come into play in three elections in state history, the most recent being the 1999 gubernatorial election of Ronnie Musgrove. 

 

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