Below is a press release from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Today, the SPLC Action Fund released a statewide poll of voters in Mississippi, conducted by Tulchin Research, finding overwhelming bi-partisan support for legislators and Governor Tate Reeves to fix the ballot initiative process, which was recently invalidated in a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling. Resoundingly, Mississippi voters also expressed an increased likelihood to vote for elected officials in future elections who supported a fix and a decreased likelihood of support for those who sought to eliminate ballot initiatives.
“The message of today’s polling couldn’t be clearer: Mississippians across race, party, ideology, and gender support the continued existence of the ballot initiative process in the state,” said Brandon Jones, Policy Director – Mississippi for the SPLC Action Fund. “The polling also presents an opportunity or danger for elected officials: Mississippians clearly expressed they would be more likely to support the re-election of officials who speedily re-instated the process and more likely to vote against politicians who did not support a fix.”
Governor Reeves in particular faces political peril should he not call for a special session by the end of the summer to restore the process. Reeves’s popularity is close to slipping underwater — 48% of voters have a favorable opinion of him and 46% unfavorable; 57% of voters are less likely to support the Governor’s reelection if he doesn’t take swift action.
“Not every issue facing Mississippi can be solved at the statehouse; the ballot initiative gives Mississippians an insurance policy,” continued Jones. “If a Mississippian can mobilize support, they can put an issue before voters to approve policy that improves healthcare, protects private property, or increases access to the ballot box.”
This polling was conducted in the aftermath of a 6-3 decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Court overturned the November 2020 voter-approved medical marijuana ballot initiative and in the process, eviscerated the state's entire ballot initiative process on a technicality.
When instituted in 1992 by the Mississippi Legislature, the ballot initiative process required that a certain number of signatures be gathered from each of the five congressional districts for a question to be put on the ballot. The state lost a congressional seat in 2000, and ballot initiatives proposed and passed since then relied on congressional districts as they existed in the 1990s. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court ruled that the process has been void since 2000 because there are four districts now.
The highlights of the poll:
82% of Mississippi voters want ballot initiatives in the state
79% of Mississippi voters want the state legislature to fix the law as soon as possible
76% of Mississippi voters want Governor Tate Reeves to call a special election to fix the law by the end of summer
The full Tulchin Research memo detailing the poll's findings is available here.
Selected findings from the memo:
Voters Reject the State Supreme Court’s Interference in the Ballot Initiative Process
Nearly three-quarters of voters (73%) say they oppose permitting the Supreme Court to “overturn ballot initiatives voters have already approved.” Opposition to the court overturning initiatives that voters have already approved includes majorities of Democrats (76% oppose), Republicans (71% oppose) and independents (73% oppose).
Voters Oppose State Supreme Court’s Decision to Overturn Medical Marijuana Initiative
Nearly seven-in-ten Mississippi voters (68%) say they oppose the State Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the voter approved ballot initiative permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes on a legal technicality, despite its recent passage with overwhelming support (73% Yes to 27% no in the 2020 elections). Opposition to this decision crosses party lines and includes solid majorities of Democrats (75% oppose), Republicans (61% oppose) and independents (69% oppose).
Political Peril Governor Reeves Faces
Voters want Governor Reeves to do his duty and call a special session immediately to resolve the ballot measure question. Specifically, more than three-quarters of voters (76%) believe the Governor should call a special session this summer to update the law to restore the state’s ballot initiative process in time for the next round of statewide elections in 2023. Again, support for the Governor calling a special session to restore the ballot measure process includes significant majorities of Democrats (77% yes), Republicans (73% yes) and independents (75% yes).