Voting on the Constitutional Initiative
In 1992, Mississippi voters amended Section 273 of the State Constitution to allow for an initiative process for our citizens. Section 273 allowed for citizens to amend the Constitution without having to go through the State Legislature. The Secretary of State’s Office is required to place the citizens sponsored the educational opportunity for public school children initiative (Initiative Measure No. 42) on the November 3rd General Election ballot. The Secretary of State’s Office also is required to place the alternative measure proposed by the Mississippi Legislature (Alternative Measure No. 42A) on the General Election ballot in accordance with State law.
The State Constitution specifically dictates a vote can, “express separately two (2) preferences: First, by voting for the approval of either measure or against both measures, and secondly, by voting for one measure or the other measure.”
So what does this mean?
- On November 3rd, voters will be asked two (2) separate questions.
- First, voters are asked to vote FOR or AGAINST amending the Constitution. Second, voters are asked to choose between Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42A.
- If the vote is FOR amending the Constitution, the voter must decide and vote between Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42A. The second vote is necessary to indicate how the Constitution may be amended.
- If the voter is AGAINST amending the Constitution, the voter may still chose between Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure 42A. The second vote is not required, but is allowed and will be counted.
How are votes counted?
- If the majority of votes cast are AGAINST amending the Constitution, both Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42A FAIL and the Constitution will remain as it now exists.
- If the majority of votes cast are FOR amending the Constitution, then either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42A may amend the Constitution.
- In addition to receiving a majority of the votes on the second question, state law requires at least forty percent (40%) of the total votes cast in the election be in favor of either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42A, or both measures FAIL.
- If either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42A receives at least forty percent (40%) of the total votes cast in the election, the measure receiving the greater number of total votes PASSES.
There is inaccurate and misleading information being distributed statewide on the voting of these measures. ALL VOTES WILL BE COUNTED, in public, at every Circuit Clerk’s Office in the State of Mississippi. As with all Mississippi elections, Circuit Clerk’s Offices statewide will certify their election results with the Secretary of State’s Office within ten (10) days after Election Day. Those certified results are posted on the Secretary of State’s website. If an Initiative is passed, it will become part of the Constitution thirty (30) days after the date the election is certified.
The exact wording of the ballot and the voting process are required by the Mississippi Constitution and statutes. The State Constitution and State law requires the Ballot Title and Legislative Budget Office Fiscal Analysis to be printed on each ballot. In addition, and most importantly, Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42A are on your ballot, word for word. It may take you a minute or two to read it, but our Constitution will remain in effect for long after November 3rd.
The Secretary of State’s Office held eight (8) public hearings across the State. Transcripts of those hearings are available on our Agency’s website at www.sos.ms.gov. Statements and arguments both for and against each measure are also available on the website. I encourage you to review this resource.
But most importantly, take time to closely read your ballot before you cast your vote.
We owe it to each and every person who has suffered and died to protect our ability to cast a vote, and our ability to amend our Constitution, to take the time to make an informed decision on such a critical matter as education funding.
The ballot is worded directly as required by the Constitution. It is now up to you, the Voter, to cast your ballot in a free, fair public election. Educate yourselves before you head to the polls. Take the time to review your ballot prior to Election Day. You can view your sample ballot on our website by using the polling place locator. Read the arguments both for and against Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42A. I have faith Mississippi voters can read the information presented to them and make an informed decision. Please do so on November 3rd.
Delbert Hosemann, Secretary of State