Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi (archive)

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Citizens of Mississippi can pass constitutional amendments through the initiative process, but are not able to propose new state statutes by initiative. Mississippi is one of just two states--the other being Massachusetts--where initiated constitutional amendments are available, but not initiated legislation.

Beginning the process

The first step is to file a typewritten copy of the proposed initiative with the Mississippi Secretary of State. This must be accompanied by an affidavit proving the sponsor to be a registered voter in the state of Mississippi. Then the Secretary of State will submit a copy of the initiative to the "Revisor of the Statutes," an attorney within the Attorney General's office. Within ten working days of this exchange, the revisor will make all advisory recommendations regarding the language of the initiative. The Revisor of the Statutes will also issue a Certificate of Review to the sponsor providing proof that the initiative has been reviewed. The sponsor has the authority to accept or reject any of the recommendations from the Revisor of the Statutes.

Within 15 working days of the time that the sponsor receives notice that the Secretary of State has submitted the initiative to the Revisor of the Statutes, the sponsor must submit both the initiative measure (including changes, if any) and the Certificate of Review to the Secretary of State. The initiative will then be given a serial number and forwarded to the Attorney General.

Within seven calendar days of receiving the initiative, the Attorney General will draft the ballot title (not exceeding 20 words) and the ballot summary (not exceeding 75 words). The Attorney General will then file both the title and summary with the Secretary of State, who will then notify the sponsor by certified mail of the exact language in the ballot title and summary.

Within ten days of the title and summary being filed, the Secretary of State will publish the title and summary in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation throughout Mississippi. If the sponsor or another person is dissatisfied with the ballot title or summary, they have five days from the date of publication in the newspaper to file an appeal in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, whose decision shall be final.

Once the ballot title and ballot summary have been finalized, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures.

Regulations and details


Initiative language can be submitted at any time. The maximum amount of time allowed for collection of signatures is one year.

All signatures requiring certification are to be turned in at least 90 days prior to the convening of the legislature to which it will be submitted. A petition filed after the 90th day cannot be submitted to the next legislative session.


Petition circulators are required to be residents of the state. (See residency requirements for petition circulators.)

Distribution and numbers

See also: Distribution requirement

Mississippi has a distribution requirement: 20% from each of the five congressional districts. According to Section 273, Paragraph (3) of the Mississippi Constitution, "The signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot. If an initiative petition contains signatures from a single congressional district which exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of required signatures, the excess number of signatures from that congressional district shall not be considered by the Secretary of State in determining whether the petition qualifies for placement on the ballot."

According to Mississippi law, the number of signatures collected to qualify an initiated constitutional amendment must be equal to at least 12 percent of the total number of votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial general election.[1]

Year Initiated constitutional amendment
2015 107,216
2014 107,216
2013 107,216
2012 107,216
2008-2011 89,285
2004-2007 107,338

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Mississippi Constitution, Article XV, Section 273 (3)

Single-subject restriction

Mississippi does not have a single-subject rule.

Legislative tampering

Main article: Legislative tampering

Constitutional amendments by initiative become part of the constitution and are thus only alterable by the legislature through regular constitutional procedures, any changes of which must be approved by popular vote.

Restrictions on petition circulators

In Mississippi, it is "unlawful for any person that pays or compensates another person for circulating a petition or for obtaining signatures on a petition to base the pay or compensation on the number of petitions circulated or the number of signatures obtained."[2]

See also:

Restrictions on petition blockers

Mississippi has no restrictions on petition blockers or petition blocking campaigns.

Proposed changes


Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Mississippi State Legislature include:


Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Mississippi Legislature:


SB 2441
Subject: Recall
This bill would establish that any elected official will be provided a hearing held by the removal council to determine if there is a just cause for the removal of the elected official after the petition signatures are gathered. The signatures on the petition would be validated by the Secretary of State. It also provides that a special election will be held to fill the position.[3]
Status: Failed

SB 2441
Subject: Recall
Provide procedure for removal of state, state-district and municipal elected officials.

SC 510
Subject: Signature Requirements
Would conform initiative and referendum signature requirements to new congressional districts.
Status: Failed

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Mississippi ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Mississippi's campaign finance laws include:

  • Mississippi treats groups registered in support of or opposition to a ballot measure the same as other political committees.
  • Mississippi requires urgent reporting of campaign contributions of $200 or more in 48 hours in the last ten days of the election.
  • Mississippi allows corporations and labor unions to donate to campaigns in support or opposition of a referendum.

External links