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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, August 10, 2007

Does Mississippi Need an Election System Like Louisiana's?

The Clarion-Ledger’s editorial says ”... the Legislature which convenes in January must craft a new voting system which conforms to [Judge] Pepper’s order.”

All federal district court rulings are entitled to be reviewed by a mid-level court, so the 5th Circuit will definitely hear the appeals in this case. It’s possible that the 5th Circuit will set aside the August 31, 2008 deadline for implementing Pepper’s ruling.

“What if lawmakers did away with… separate primaries altogether?”

“In 1999, the issue arose in the secretary of state race, since it was said that having one primary [ballot] where all could vote regardless of party...”

Nick Walters, the GOP nominee, proposed that all candidates of all parties be listed on the same primary ballot, which would enable the voter to cross party lines from office to office. But each party would still be able to have one candidate per office on the November general election ballot.

California had a primary system similar to that, which the U. S. Supreme Court struck down in its landmark 2000 ruling. Ironically, that ruling is the main precedent for the Mississippi Democrats’ challenge of our current primary election law, which Pepper declared unconstitutional.

“Mississippi has played with the idea since 1966 and even adopted an open [elections] law in the early 1970s, but the federal government killed it under the Voting Rights Act. Louisiana then adopted the same law a few years later and it was approved.”

The paper is referring here to the system in which all candidates, including independents, run in the same election. If no one gets 50%-plus, the top two, regardless of party, have a runoff. That system has absolutely no chance of getting enacted for our state or congressional elections. However, in my view, it’s a great idea for our local elections, but even that would be difficult to get adopted.

It’s worth noting that that’s the way we now elect our state and county judges and county election commissioners. It’s also like the special elections that we hold to fill vacancies in offices.

All of this is covered in detail here.

This commentary is also posted at Yall Politics.

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