/Effort to put old flag on ballot is underway, but organizers must navigate a long maze

Effort to put old flag on ballot is underway, but organizers must navigate a long maze

Before the collection of signatures can start, there are several steps that must be completed. After the paperwork has been completed, the initiative sponsors have one year to collect the signatures. To make the flag proposal on the ballot, you must get the signatures from 106,196 registered voters, which is 12 percent of the total for the 2019 election for governor. Each of the five congressional districts from the 1990s must be included in the signatures. The organizers of the initiative should plan to do additional work in the 2nd Congressional District if they are faced with this daunting task. This district is home to significantly fewer people than the four other districts. It doesn’t matter. The state Constitution requires that signatures must be obtained equally from all districts, as they were in the early 1990s when Mississippi voters went to polls to pass the initiative. In the early 2000s, Mississippi lost a congressional district because of faster growth in other states. Based on the 2010 census, the 2nd District used to include large parts of the Delta and areas in the Jackson metro. It has 475,786 inhabitants, or 212.441 fewer than the 1st District which included DeSoto County, northwest Mississippi, and the Tupelo region in northeast Mississippi. The average number of residents in the 2nd District is 147,034 less than that of the other districts. The large racial disparity could also be significant. It is probable that many Black Mississippians will oppose the effort to collect signatures for the Confederate flag being restored. Based on the 2010 Census, there are 122,454 white adults in the 2nd district, and 219,985 African American adults. On average, 312,020 white adults live in the four other districts. The Mississippi Legislature approved the removal of the state flag in June. The Legislature created a commission to recommend a flag that voters can approve or reject in November. The commission will propose another design in 2021 if the original design is rejected. Let Mississippi Vote was formed to oppose the Legislature’s action. The initiative it filed with the Secretary-of-State’s office would give Mississippians the option of choosing from four designs. If voters approve a recommendation made by the flag commission, the law will become state law. A referendum from the Let Mississippi Vote initiative will be approved by the voters and it will become part of the Constitution. This makes it more difficult to amend. The possibility of bringing back the old flag would be a big deal since Mississippi was the focus of national attention in June, when it removed the Confederate symbol from its flag. According to paperwork filed with Secretary of State’s Office, a vote on the old flag should be held in November 2021. However, that is unlikely. It would be a huge feat to collect the signatures in the time required for the initiative to appear on 2021’s ballot. The Constitution also requires that the initiatives be included on the ballot for the state general election. There will be municipal elections in spring and summer 2021 but no general election. There is also the question of whether 2022’s midterm elections, in which congressional and judicial candidates are on the ballots, will count as general elections. If the required signatures have been collected, it could take 2023 before the issue appears on the ballot. Legislators believed that it would be difficult to amend Constitution. This is why the whole process looks so complicated. Truth be told, legislators in the early 1990s weren’t fully committed to the idea of citizens being able to bypass the Legislature and modify the Constitution. The process was made complicated and full of pitfalls by legislators. Seventeen of the over 70 initiatives filed since 1992 have made it to the ballot, including this November’s medical marijuana initiative. Expect many twists and turns before the flag initiative is on the ballot. This could also include legal wranglings.