JACKSON, Miss. (Mississippi Today) – An overwhelming 82% of Mississippians believe there should be two ways to enact laws in the state – through the Legislature and through a citizen-sponsored ballot initiative process, according to a poll commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Action Fund.

The poll also found that there could be political consequences for Gov. Tate Reeves, who according to the poll already has a slim 48% to 46% approval rate, and for legislators if they do not take steps to revive the initiative process that was struck down by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“The data show he (Reeves) is not in a position of strength on this issue,” said Ben Tulchin, president of Tulchin Research, which conducted the poll for the SPLC Action Fund. “If he wants to stay in office, he should heed these numbers and listen to the will of the people.”

The only role the governor can play in reviving the initiative process would be to call a special session. He would not sign a proposal passed by the Legislature to revive the process — instead, it would go to voters for their approval.

The poll found by a 76% to 17% margin, voters favor Reeves calling a special session before the summer is up to give legislators the opportunity to reinstate the initiative process and to pass a medical marijuana law. The poll did not address the costs of a special session or other costs that would be associated with trying to revive he ballot initiative as quickly as possible.

In May, the state Supreme Court by a 6-3 margin struck down a medical marijuana initiative approved by voters in November and in doing so also struck down the entire initiative process.

SLPC released results of the poll Thursday during a Zoom conference with members of the media. The poll was conducted June 12-17 by Tulchin Research, a national polling company, of 600 Mississippian via landline and cell phones. Those polls were designed to reflect the normal Mississippi electorate – about one-third African American and overwhelmingly Republican. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

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