Mar 24, 2011

Online beer petition not legal, Pontotoc supporters regroup

Several months ago, those who wish for Pontotoc to have alcohol and light wine sales in the county started an online beer petition.

Since then the organizer, Danielle Williams, has learned that in the state of Mississippi an online petition is of no value because online petitions aren’t legally recognized in the state.

“Miss Tracy Robinson said it is illegal because you must have the hand written signatures of the people in the county,” Williams said.

That means that the paper petition gathering must go on and the organizers are looking for ways to personally gather the needed signatures, “because we would like to see this on the November ballot.”

Williams initially got involved in the issue when she found out that some of the paper petitions were disappearing from local stores.

She said she wants to see beer legalized in Pontotoc County because she believes it is time that folks in Pontotoc take action on something.

“We slipped up on Ole Miss years ago, this is something we should not be overlooking.

“It should not be held back from us because of religious preferences, but be here because it will benefit us.”

Williams said she would like to see a committee organized to get out and get the signatures needed. She knows she can’t go door-to-door soliciting the signatures, but she is determined to get supporters together to figure out a way to get them.

“We need a place to meet,” she said. “If anyone has a place, please call me and we can start organizing.

“My phone number is (662) 489-6221.”

The number that is needed on the petition for the beer sales is growing. There are now 16,765 registered voters in Pontotoc so the group will have to collect 3,353 signatures to bring the matter for a vote.

The law provides for local elections to determine whether or not to allow beer to be sold in the local communities.

The beer law provides that a vote to allow beer sales within a county will be held upon receipt by the Board of Supervisors of a petition signed by 20 percent of the qualified electors of the county.

The petitions are submitted to the board, who in turn gives them to the circuit clerk.

The circuit clerk has to verify each signature and then present them back to the board with a “YES” (they are all qualified voters) or a “NO” (there aren’t enough).

If there aren’t enough, the group must start from scratch re-gathering signatures.

Today, almost one-half of the counties in Mississippi are dry with their own prohibition against the production, advertising, sale, distribution, or transportation of alcoholic beverages within their boundaries.

It is even illegal to bring alcohol through a dry county in Mississippi while traveling across the country in the process of, for example, moving a personal wine or spirits collection to one's new residence.

The last time folks in Pontotoc County voted on the beer law was in the fall of 1974.

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