Personhood USA, the Colorado group behind the Mississippi ballot question, has started collecting signatures for a petition to place a similar proposal to Florida voters, The St. Petersburg Times reported Monday. Personhood Florida state coordinator Brenda MacMenamin said the group has gathered about 20,000 petition signatures so far.
Florida election laws have all but eliminated hopes of getting the measure on a 2012 statewide ballot, observers said. The group needs 676,811 petition signatures -- or 8 percent of votes cast in Florida during the 2008 presidential election -- to qualify for the November 2012 ballot. The petitions must be certified by local elections supervisors and submitted to the secretary of state by Feb. 1.
Also, any signatures collected soon will be invalid because changes in state law now require all petitions be gathered within two years, the Times said.
Petition gatherers will begin anew next year in hopes of making the 2014 ballot, MacMenamin told the Times.
"We have built a network across the state at this point," she said, "so it really is hitting critical mass."
The Mississippi ballot question up for voter consideration Tuesday would amend the state's constitution to include the definition of the word "person," which "shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."