Citizens submit wine vote petitions

The citizens group designated as Citizens for Voting submitted 1,500 petitions seeking a vote on the sale of wine and spirits in New Albany to the Union County Chancery Clerk’s office at 5 p.m. Monday.

A spokesperson for the group said that, while 1,500 signatures had been turned in, Citizens for Voting had collected many more petitions as well.
According to Union County Board of Supervisor’s attorney Thad Mueller, the next step for the county is to validate the signatures.
“The election commission will have to take a look at each petition and make sure that the person who signed is currently a registered voter in the county,” Mueller said.  “The commission would then report its findings to the board [of supervisors].”
According to state statutes on the subject, once a county in Mississippi receives a petition signed by at least 20% or 1,500, whichever is less, of the qualified electors of the county, the board of supervisors is required by law to call an election for or against the legal sale of alcoholic beverages.
The election must be held within 60 days of the day the petitions are submitted.  If the petition is validated, it is likely the election would be held in December or January.
There are more than 16,000 registered voters in the county.
Mississippi law states that a vote on the issue of wine and spirits must be conducted county-wide, but sale of wine and liquor in restaurants or package stores can only occur in incorporated cities and towns.
By contrast, beer is an issue voted on by city residents. New Albany began selling beer in restaurants and stores more than a year ago.
The wine and spirits law would apply to New Albany only. No sales can occur outside the city limits.
The last election in Union County on the wine and spirits issue was held in November 2008. It failed, 43 percent to 57 percent. A simple majority is required for passage.
Currently 48 of 82 Mississippi counties allow the sale of wine and liquor. Forty-six allow the sale of beer county-wide, but many municipalities, including New Albany, in dry counties also allow beer sales.