More than 100,000 voters signed petitions to put Initiative 42 on the statewide ballot. Legislators who oppose it put an alternative, 42-A, on the same ballot.
But, ballots in Hinds County omit the A from 42-A.
The Hinds ballot also rewords another ballot section dealing with initiatives.
“These gross errors will lead to additional confusion on a ballot already made confusing by the legislative leadership,” said Jonathan Compretta, co-manager of the 42 For Better Schools Campaign. “The secretary of state has a statutory duty to ensure that ballots in each county are correct in every aspect.”
The Hinds County sample ballot is on the circuit clerk’s website, and it matches the absentee ballot being given to Hinds voters before the Nov. 3 election.
The Hinds County format is different than a suggested sample ballot approved by state election commissioners and posted on the secretary of state’s website.
The secretary of state’s office has found no problem with the ballot format in the other 81 counties, spokeswoman Pamela Weaver said Tuesday.
“Although not required by state law, the secretary of state’s office has reviewed the initiative language for the other 81 counties. All were correct,” Weaver said in an email to The Associated Press.
Initiative 42 says: “Should the state be required to provide for the support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?” It would allow people to sue the state in chancery court to seek additional money for schools.
Critics say 42 would take budget decisions out of legislators’ hands and put a judge in charge. The legislative alternative, Measure 42-A says: “Should the Legislature provide for the establishment and support of effective free public schools without judicial enforcement?”
The current formula for most state spending on schools is called the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It has been fully funded only twice since it was put into law in 1997.
Mississippi’s initiative law is complicated, and this is the first time legislators have put an alternative dealing with the same subject on the same ballot as a citizen-sponsored proposal.
Passing either 42 or 42-A is a two-part process.
— The first part says “Vote for approval of either, or against both.”
The state sample ballot gives two choices: “For approval of either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42 A” or “Against both Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42 A.”
The Hinds County ballot says: “For approval of either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42 A” or “Against approval of either Initiative Measure No. 42 or Alternative Measure No. 42 A.”
— The second part lets a voter choose between 42 and the alternative, even if the person had voted against both measures in the first section.
The state sample ballot lists the choices as Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42 A.
The Hinds County ballot lists them as Initiative Measure No. 42 and Alternative Measure No. 42.