Election lawsuit questions Mississippi constitutional provision

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JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - A group of Mississippians will have their election lawsuit heard in federal court this week. Their argument surrounds a provision in the state Constitution that dictates how we choose governors and statewide elected officials.

In question is a system that says a candidate has to win both a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the 122 House Districts. If both aren’t met, the Mississippi House decides a winner, something the plaintiffs says violates voters’ constitutional rights.

“It really flies in the face of the one person one vote rule, because if you don’t agree with other people in your statewide district then your vote should still count,” said Mississippi Center for Justice Advocacy Director Beth Orlansky.

But will the case be settled before November 5th?

“The courts can move fast," noted Orlansky. "They don’t often but they can. But we feel like we filed this in time to get a resolution.”

Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey says there’s a reason this is under the microscope this year.

“This provision is a tremendous backstop for the candidacy for Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, a tremendous ace in the hole of his candidacy and at the same time a tremendous hurdle for General Hood,” said Steffey.

Steffey explained that if Democrat Jim Hood wins the popular vote and not the majority of House Districts, it would get thrown to the majority Republican House to decide. And they would likely favor party nominee Tate Reeves.

“Stay tuned because it is rarely the case that something this consequential plays out this starkly in real time as the election goes on,” added Steffey.

There are still a lot of variables. For example, a candidate may take both majorities and the provision wouldn’t be put into practice. Either way, one thing is likely with the case.

“It is certain that we will be in some sort of legal fight,' said Steffey. "Because however Judge Jordan rules, there will an appeal and there’s no way an appeal gets resolved by November.”