History-making initiatives on ballot for Tuesday’s election

By Bobby Harrison | NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Mississippi voters will have an opportunity to make history Tuesday.
They will have the chance to amend the state Constitution for the first time through the citizen-sponsored initiative process.
Three citizen-sponsored initiatives will be at the bottom of Tuesday’s ballot.
They are in order of appearance:
• Initiative 26 – If passed, it would define a person “to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof.”
• Initiative 27 – If passed, it would require “a person to submit a government issued photo identification in order to vote.”
• Initiative 31 – If passed, it would prohibit the government “from taking private property by eminent domain and then transferring it to other persons.”
The state’s current initiative process was enacted in the early 1990s. Since then, there have been only two initiatives on the ballot, both dealing with term limits. Both were defeated, in 1995 and 1999.
To get an issue on the ballot, the signatures of registered voters equaling at least 12 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election (89,285) must be gathered. At least 20 percent of that total must be gathered from each of the five congressional districts as they were drawn in 1991.
For an initiative to pass, it must obtain not only a majority vote, but also at least 40 percent of the total votes cast in the election must also be either for or against the issue.
It could be argued that the initiatives, especially 26 (known as the personhood amendment) have garnered more attention this election cycle than the candidates for the eight statewide offices, candidates for the Legislature and candidates for county level and district level offices.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com