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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.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Columbus
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Oxford
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Starkville
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