A few weeks ago the Cleveland School District submitted the Petitions Opposing the 3-MIL Tax Increase to the Bolivar County Circuit Clerk, Marilyn Kelly, for signature certification and validation. As with any subject of interest in the community, I believe this tedious process deserves being addressed. As most people may have signed a petition measure at one time or another, most people may not know what happens to their “signature” or that petition after they’ve signed it. Well, the Mississippi Constitution is clear in defining the Process of Certifying [Petition Signatures]:
The Certification Process
Before a person may file a petition with the Governing Authority (School Board), the petition must be certified by the circuit clerk of the county in which the petition was circulated. The circuit clerk shall certify the signatures of qualified electors of that county and shall state the total number of qualified electors signing the petition in that county. The circuit clerk shall verify the name of each qualified elector signing on each petition. 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. When the person proposing any initiative measure has secured upon the petition a number of signatures of qualified electors equal to or exceeding the minimum number required by Section 273(3) of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 for the proposed measure, and such signatures have been certified by the circuit clerks of the various counties, he may submit the petition to the Governing Authority (School Board) for filing.
NOTATIONS IN SUMMARY:
Only a person who is a qualified elector of this county and/or school district may circulate a petition or obtain signatures on a petition. It is unlawful to give or offer consideration to elector;
EVERY PERSON WHO SIGNS THIS PETITION WITH ANY OTHER THAN HIS OR HER TRUE NAME;
KNOWINGLY SIGNS MORE THAN ONE OF THESE PETITIONS RELATING TO THE SAME INITIATIVE MEASURE;
SIGNS THIS PETITION WHEN HE OR SHE IS NOT A QUALIFIED ELECTOR OR
MAKES ANY FALSE STATEMENT ON THIS PETITION MAY BE PUNISHED BY FINE, IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.
Again, the constitution is clear in its directive to the Circuit Clerk and as the circuit clerk, I’m only authorized to qualify eligible electors (voters who are active registered voters in the Cleveland School District) on this submitted petition. While this office may qualify eligible voters, I am not authorized to dismiss duplicate signers of the petition. As always, I inform the people of Bolivar of my role as well as any component that is not my role. As the circuit clerk, I am the sole authority in registering voters in Bolivar County and I keep the voter roll in my custody. All voting districts, including school districts, on the voter roll are interpreted and fixed by the Bolivar County Election Commission to ensure that voters are placed in the right district according to their voter registration application. Therefore; it’s imperative that people register to vote and keep their voting record updated when they move. Petition Certifications and Elections are synonymous. Meaning, they both can only work when officials are given complete and accurate information.