JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The elephant in the room ahead of Tuesday’s general election is the state’s method for choosing statewide elected officials and whether it will be put into play in the state’s competitive race for Governor.
Mississippi’s constitution puts red tape on being elected as a statewide elected official and Millsaps Department of Government and Politics Chair Dr. Nathan Shrader admits it’s confusing.
“I’m not so sure the public as a whole understands it, but, in part, because it’s very convoluted,” noted Shrader.
Mississippi requires a candidate to get the outright majority of the popular vote and the majority of the 122 state House districts. If they don’t get both, the House of Representatives picks the winner.
“In my reading of the statute, there’s nothing binding a lawmaker to vote a certain way,” added Shrader.
Their vote could follow the way their district voted, their party or just what they feel is right. Either way, if the candidates don’t get both majorities Tuesday, it could spark more confusion.
“You’re going to have something of a moment where Mississippi voters are going to look back and say, ‘Wait a minute... did my vote count or did my vote not count in this race?’” explained Shrader.
If that’s the case, the race wouldn’t be finalized until January when the legislature goes into session. It was challenged in federal court and, while the judge didn’t make a change, it will likely be appealed.
Another factor could be an education community like The Parents Campaign who encouraged folks to vote.
“It’s really important that we let teachers know that we have their backs and that means electing state leaders that have their backs," said The Parents’ Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome. "Public education effects everyone whether or not they have children in public schools.”
Decisions last legislative session on teacher pay raises and special education vouchers are pushing teachers to be more outspoken.