Measure calls for runoff to decide some offices

One of the ballot measures appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot removes the electoral vote requirement for election to governor and other state offices –lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, state treasurer, commissioner of agriculture and commissioner of insurance.
Presently a candidate for governor or the other elected state offices must receive the most votes in a majority of the state’s 122 member House of Representatives districts.
House Concurrent Resolution No. 47 removes the House of Representatives from choosing a winner if no candidate receives a majority and provides for a runoff election between the two highest vote-getters should no candidate receive a majority vote.
A 2019 federal lawsuit filed by four African American citizens alleged the electoral vote requirement as racially discriminatory and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts failed to rule at the time, and stayed the litigation from proceeding in order to give the state legislature, during its 2020 session, a chance to remove the provisions written into the state’s 1890 constitution, allowing that if the amendment process fell short, there would be amble time to resume the litigation prior to the 2023 elections.
The Mississippi House of Representatives has decided a gubernatorial election only once.
In 1999 Ronnie Musgrove-D received a plurality of the vote, getting 8300 more votes than the next highest vote-getter, Mike Parker-R, in the general election. Musgrove received 49.6% of the vote and Parker received 48.5%. Two lesser candidates in the race accounted for just under 2% so that no candidate received a 50% plus 1 vote clear majority.
To muddy the waters even more, both Musgrove and Parker evenly split the state’s 122 House districts, each candidate winning in 61.
Since neither candidate won a majority of the vote and neither won a majority of the state’s House districts, the election was decided by the Mississippi House of Representatives, at the time under Democrat control. As would be expected the House voted along party lines, choosing Musgrove over Parker 86-36.

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