In the past few months, the Mississippi State government has infuriated thousands of Mississippians with its decision to suspend the rules and retire the 1894 state flag.
In order to try and allow the voice of all citizens in Mississippi to be heard, a group has gotten together and formed Let MS Vote. With more than 7,000 volunteers, Let MS Vote is working hard to get petitions to send out around the state, which would allow the people of Mississippi to have the final say regarding the flag.
“We kicked off Let MS Vote so that the people of Mississippi can vote on the flag,” explained Let MS Vote organizer Dan Carr. “Hopefully, we will have petitions by the middle of October and can start to collect signatures. Once we get the 106, 750 signatures that we need, we will then put four flags on the ballot to be voted on: we will put the Bicentennial Flag, the Stennis Flag, the flag chosen by the flag commission, and then the 1894 flag. Then, we will let the people of Mississippi vote on the flag.”
People are not upset that the flag has been retired, but they are livid that the ability to vote for the change was removed.
“The whole reason for starting Let MS Vote is to let the people of Mississippi decide. I haven’t spoken with anyone in Mississippi yet who would be upset with a flag change if the people of Mississippi vote on a flag change,” stated Carr. “Everyone I’ve spoken with is just very upset with the fact that the Lieutenant Governor allowed the legislature to vote to suspend the rules and retire the flag without the vote of the people. The people of Mississippi voted on this issue 19 years ago, and the legislature set the precedent back then with allowing the people of Mississippi to vote. Because of that, we feel that we should be allowed to vote today.”
The group was not created by politicians, and although there are some politicians in support of the group, it is primarily a group created and run by the citizens of Mississippi.
“This is a campaign by we the people. This is about we the people of Mississippi,” said Carr. “I’m not an elected official. Of course, Senator Chris McDaniel is helping us and working with us, but this campaign is 99% we the people. It’s all about the people of Mississippi working to have a right to vote on the flag.”
The group is not only interested and correcting the vote issue that is present, though. They are also working to make sure that the legislature is not able to remove the people’s voting right again.
“This time, we’re actually doing a referendum to the constitution so that the flag will be in the constitution,” stated Carr. “That way, the legislatures will not be able to do this again. Whichever flag is voted on by the people will be the flag in the constitution.”
Once the group is able to attain the petitions, the hard work for all the volunteers will begin. At this time, there are volunteers in every county in the state. It will be up to the volunteers, county chairs, and precinct captains in each county to get the signatures they need to place the four flags on ballot for the people of Mississippi to choose. Although only 106,750 signatures are needed to put the flags on the ballot, the group has a goal to collect 150,000 signatures to make sure that all of the signature requirements are met.
“The 106,750 signatures have to be certified Mississippi registered voters. Once we get the signatures, we have to take them to the Circuit Clerk’s office,” explained Carr. “The Circuit Clerks have to certify that they are registered voters. If they aren’t registered voters in that area, then their signature doesn’t count. The real goal we’re aiming for is about 150,000 signatures. Then, we know we should have the number of signatures we need.”
The group has an overall page set up on Facebook under Let MS Vote, and each county in the state has a personal Facebook page for the group. The group for Clarke County is Let Clarke County Vote.
Anyone who would like to find out more information or volunteer with the group can go to www.letmsvote.info.