Federal lawsuit claims Mississippi’s way of selecting statewide officials is racist

Election law challenge

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi’s constitution puts more red tape than you may realize on being elected Governor or winning other statewide offices.The Mississippi Constitution says candidates need to win the popular vote and the majority of the 122 state House districts. If they don’t get both, the House could pick the winner. Four black Mississippians are filing a lawsuit to say that part of state’s system is racist.

“It’s designed to dilute the impact of the black vote in the long term,” said plaintiff Leslie-Burl McLemore.

The lawsuit notes that African-American voters are highly concentrated in a small number of districts. Millsaps political science professor Dr. Nathan Shrader says the electoral vote process brings up questions.

“The problem that comes up there is you’re discounting essentially the votes of every citizen and every voter that voted for the person that didn’t win. And they’re being sort of cast aside in a way that seems to be anti-democratic.”

The suit argues that in a close race, the predominantly white and Republican house could tilt a tight contest because much of Mississippi’s black population is concentrated in Delta counties and not proportionally represented.

“Since this was put into the state constitution, we have not elected a statewide candidate who is a minority despite the fact that we have the highest share of minority voter constituents in the country," explained Shrader. “If successful, you would have a far less complicated and more fair and straightforward system when elected governors and statewide candidates, a system that we all sort of probably assume is already in place but it isn’t is what we’d be using to vote this November.”

To view the lawsuit, click HERE.

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