1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Rayborn
Senate Bill 2506
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 23-17-21, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT CIRCUIT CLERKS SHALL CERTIFY THE NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS ON AN INITIATIVE PETITION WHEN THERE IS A CHALLENGE PRESENTED TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE AS TO WHETHER THERE IS SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS ON THE PETITION, TO PROVIDE A TIME IN WHICH THE PETITION SPONSOR MAY OBTAIN ADDITIONAL SIGNATURES TO MEET THE REQUIREMENT OF SUFFICIENT NUMBERS OF REGISTERED VOTERS ON THE PETITION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-17-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-17-21. For a period of three (3) consecutive days after a petition sponsor files a petition with the Secretary of State, a registered voter of the State of Mississippi may challenge the petition's number of registered voters' signatures by submitting in writing to the Secretary of State, along with verification (written proof from the circuit clerk), that he or she is a registered voter and that the petition does not contain sufficient number of signatures of registered voters to meet the constitutional requirement to qualify for placement on the ballot. In the presence of the petition sponsor and one (1) other witness of the sponsor's choosing, the Secretary of State shall then choose petitions that contain ten thousand (10,000) signatures distributed equally across the congressional districts. These petitions shall be placed in envelopes, along with forms for certifying, and shall be sealed and delivered to a service for certified delivery to the circuit clerks of the respective counties for certification as to the number of registered voters on the petitions. The petition sponsor shall be notified in writing upon receipt of the petitions by the circuit clerk as to when the certification process will take place. The certification must occur within ten (10) days of the receipt of the petitions by the clerk or all of the signatures shall be declared certified as registered voters. The petition sponsor shall have the right to witness the certification or appoint someone to witness the certification. Upon certification of the number of registered voters on the petitions, the circuit clerk shall present the sponsor a certified copy of the certification form and return the original, along with the petitions to the Secretary of State. Within five (5) working days after the circuit clerk has certified the signatures, the Secretary of State shall determine the percentage of registered voters of the ten thousand (10,000) signatures on the petitions certified by the circuit clerks. This percentage shall be the percentage of the total quantity of signatures submitted upon the filing of the petition that are deemed to be registered voters. If through this process it is determined that the petition does not contain the required number of registered voters then the sponsor shall have ninety (90) days thereafter to collect more signatures to meet the required number. The same certification process shall apply to those collected in the ninety (90) days with the exceptions that there may be less than ten thousand (10,000) signatures sent for certification if the quantity needed in the specific congressional district is less than ten thousand (10,000), and the signatures may be selected from only the congressional districts needed. The state Legislature shall appropriate sufficient funds to reimburse the circuit clerks involved in the certification for their actual costs for certifying. A circuit clerk may not receive any fee, salary or compensation from any private person or private legal entity for the clerk's duties in certifying an initiative petition. * * * The Secretary of State shall collect a fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) from the person filing the petition to pay part of the administrative and publication costs.
SECTION 2. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi is directed to submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.