Some Mississippi residents are rebelling against the Legislature's decision to retire a Confederate-themed state flag, and they are being encouraged by conservative legislators who fought the change. Organizers of a group called Let Mississippi Vote said Monday that they are starting an initiative to put the retired flag and three other flag designs on the statewide ballot, the AP reports. "What the legislators did, in my opinion, was 100% wrong,” said the group's leader, Dan Carr. "We should give the people of Mississippi the right to vote on this flag." Getting any initiative on the ballot requires signatures from more than 106,000 voters, evenly distributed among the five congressional districts Mississippi used 20 years ago. Most initiatives fail because organizers fall short in gathering signatures.
Even if this initiative gets to the ballot, an election could be a year or two away. And, Mississippi might have a new flag before then. A commission is already working on a flag design that, by legislative mandate, cannot include the Confederate battle emblem and must have the phrase, "In God We Trust." Under the law that retired the old flag, the lone design that commissioners recommend will go on the ballot this November. If voters accept the design, it will become the new state flag. If they reject it, the commission will come up with a new design that will go on a later ballot. The four choices proposed by the initiative are the 1894 Confederate-themed flag, a bicentennial flag featuring the state seal, a "hospitality flag" designed by Jackson artist Laurin Stennis, and the new design that will be recommended by the flag commission. (A design featuring a mosquito was accidentally included in the 147 flags selected from almost 3,000 submissions.)