/Plan to remove House from deciding statewide elections alive in Legislature, but majority vote would be required

Plan to remove House from deciding statewide elections alive in Legislature, but majority vote would be required

However, each proposal eliminates Jim Crow-era constitutional requirements. If no candidate wins both a majority vote or the most votes in any of the 122 House districts then the House members will select the winner from among the top two vote-getters. The Senate and House Constitution committees have approved the proposals to remove the provision that could allow for statewide elections to be decided by the House. There are still many steps to go in the legislative process for both. Chris Johnson, R-Hattiesburg was the Senate Constitution Chair. He stated that the proposal to eliminate the requirement that the House choose the winner was being considered in the legislative process. This was at least partially in response to a federal suit. U.S. Judge Daniel Jordan of Southern District of Mississippi delayed a 2019 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of “electoral provisions”. This was to allow the state to reconsider them. The electoral provisions were alleged to dilute the votes and to prevent African Americans from being elected to state office. They were included in the 1890 Constitution. According to the lawsuit, a volume of Mississippi Historical Society states that the Constitution was written in 1890 to ensure the White Minority controlled the House of Representatives. However, both the House and committees removed the provision that would throw the elections into the House. The legislation would still require all eight state officeholders to get a majority vote. No candidate can win more than 50% of the vote in November’s general election. There would be a runoff between top two vote-getters within two or three weeks. Except for Mississippi, Vermont, Georgia, and Louisiana, candidates do not need to win a majority in order to be elected to statewide office. A majority of states allow a candidate to win by winning with a plurality. Johnson stated that “just because one state is doing it doesn’t mean that it is better.” Johnson pointed out that Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, was elected Minnesota governor in the late 1990s. He received less than 40% of the vote. Johnson stated that statewide officeholders must have at least a majority vote in order to govern effectively. Other elected offices in the state don’t require a majority vote. This includes the general election for legislative positions. Senator David Blount (D-Jackson), who has filed bills in almost every session to repeal the provisions of the state Constitution, stated that he would prefer not have a runoff but stated that the most important issue was to eliminate the clause giving the House the power to choose the winner. The full chambers will consider the proposals in the coming weeks. Blount and any other member of the House could propose an amendment to give the right to the person with the most votes, regardless of its majority, to be elected to the office. The legislative process requires a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House to amend the state Constitution. Voters must also approve of the amendments during a November general elections. In 1990, the constitutional provisions were in effect in three elections: twice for lieutenant governor (and once for governor). The House chose the candidate with the highest number of votes in each case. Mississippi is currently the only state in which a candidate for statewide office can win a majority vote without being seated. The Senate proposal will allow for the rare situation where a tie vote is required to win a statewide office. In that case, the election will be thrown back into the Legislature, where both senators and members of the House will vote. Each of the 122 House representatives will get one vote, while each senator will get two.