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Analysis: Mississippi ballot will have candidates and issues

Mississippi residents will vote on people and issues in the Nov. 3 general election.

Posted: Sep 13, 2020 4:00 PM
Updated: Sep 14, 2020 10:16 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi residents will vote on people and issues in the Nov. 3 general election.

The ballot will list candidates for president, U.S. House and Senate and state Supreme Court.

Three issues are on the ballot. One is the question of whether to legalize medical marijuana. Another is whether to eliminate an electoral college provision in races for governor and other statewide offices. The third is a yes-or-no vote on a single proposal for a new state flag.

Because of the ballot structure, there's potential for confusion on the medical marijuana question.

Initiative 65 would legalize medical marijuana. It is paired on the ballot with Alternative Measure 65A, which would legalize medical marijuana only for people with debilitating conditions.

There's a two-step process for voting on 65 and 65A. The ballot first instructs people to “Vote for approval of either, or against both.” It then says, “And for vote for one” — either 65 or 65A.

“Even if you vote against both, you can still vote for 65 or 65A just in case this was to pass,” Secretary of State Michael Watson said in a Facebook video.

Responding to questions from The Associated Press, Watson said Friday that it's OK for people who vote against both 65 and 65A to skip the second part. Their “no” vote will still count.

Initiative 65 got on the ballot because more than 100,000 registered voters petitioned to put it there. The alternative got on the ballot because legislators put it there, as state law allows.

Putting an alternative on the same ballot is generally seen as a way for legislators to kill the original proposal. That happened in 2015, when legislators put an alternative on the ballot along with a school-funding proposal that got there through the petition process. Both the initiative and the alternative failed.

The second measure on this year's Mississippi ballot deals with the election process, and it got there because legislators adopted House Concurrent Resolution 47. The proposed state constitutional amendment says that winning a race for governor or any other statewide office would require a simple majority; if no candidate receives that, the race would be decided by a runoff.

The Mississippi Constitution currently requires a statewide candidate to win a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote. One electoral vote goes to the candidate receiving the most support in each of the 122 state House districts. If nobody wins both the popular vote and the electoral vote, the race is decided by the state House. But representatives are not obligated to vote as their districts did.

Mississippi is the only state with the multistep process for electing a governor. The process was written when white politicians across the South were enacting laws to erase Black political power gained during Reconstruction. The separate House vote was promoted as a way for the white ruling class have the final say in who holds office.

Black plaintiffs sued the state over its electoral process last year. Days before the 2019 governor's race, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III wrote that he has “grave concern” about the constitutionality of the electoral vote provision. Jordan wrote that the plaintiffs’ argument about violation of one person, one vote is “arguably ... their strongest claim.”

The flag issue is on the ballot because Mississippi legislators voted in late June to retire the last state flag with the Confederate battle emblem. They made the change under pressure from business, religious, education and sports groups as widespread protests against racial injustice in the U.S. focused attention on the public display of Confederate symbols.

A commission spent weeks soliciting and revising designs before recommending a new state flag with a magnolia. As required by law, it includes the phrase, “In God We Trust.” If a majority of voters accept the magnolia design, it will become the new flag. If they reject it, the design process starts again, still with a prohibition on the Confederate symbol.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294994

Reported Deaths: 6681
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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Oxford
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Starkville
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Feels Like: 35°
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