The Delicate Ballet of Mississippi Ballot Initiatives

Her lawsuit hinged on the state constitution’s requirement that ballot initiatives be filed with signatures from five congressional districts. It would have been pretty difficult for the Initiative 65 campaign to gather these signatures, though, as the state has only had four such districts since the 2000 Census. The constitution’s language around ballot initiatives, which was written prior to that redistricting, had never been updated. “It was almost surreal, as if it didn’t happen,” Newburger says of learning about the challenge ahead of the election. “A plethora of initiatives had been filed already and never challenged. I thought we had done everything right.”

They had done everything right, the court determined, except conjuring signatures from a congressional district that hasn’t existed for over 20 years. Considering the state’s current legislative map, the decision read, the ballot initiative process “no longer functions.”

Rookie mistake.

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