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Watson: Mississippi should change multipart election system

Michael Watson | Source: Mississippi State Senate

The incoming secretary of state spoke about his future for the state's election system.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 3:39 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s incoming secretary of state says he will work to change a Jim Crow-era election system that requires multiple steps for statewide races.

“I’m definitely supportive of moving away from the current system,” Republican Michael Watson told the Clarion Ledger on Tuesday.

Mississippi's 1890 constitution requires a statewide candidate to win a majority of both the popular vote and the 122 state House districts. Without both, the election is decided by the state House.

The process was written when white politicians across the South were enacting laws to erase black political power gained during Reconstruction, and the separate House vote was promoted as a way for the white ruling class to have the final say in who holds office.

Watson is currently a state senator. He won the open race for secretary of state on Nov. 5 and will take office in January. He said he will ask legislators to consider taking steps to change the multistep election process. Because a change would require amending the state constitution, voters would also have to give their approval.

African American plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit this year to challenge the process, saying it violates the constitutional principle of one person-one vote.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan declined to block Mississippi from using the system during Nov. 5 elections, but said he has “grave concern” about the constitutionality of the process.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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