Legislature should fix Constitution
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2000
Two months after Mississippi voters cast ballots in the state governor’s race which ended in an almost dead-heat, lawmakers are expected to decide today which candidate will become our next governor.
The long delay was due to a bizarre outcome to the race and to the state’s out-dated Constitution. Neither of the major candidates, Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and former U.S. Rep. Mike Parker, received a majority of the votes. Musgrove had 49.6 percent to Parker’s 48.5; the remaining went to minor-party candidates.
The Constitution requires statewide candidates to have the majority of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral votes decided by individual House districts. When these aren’t met, such as in this case, the decision goes to the House floor for a vote.
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If all of the political pundits are correct, Musgrove has more than an ample number of votes to claim victory.
Although Parker’s supporters certainly will be disappointed by the vote, state residents should be as well. They shouldn’t be upset over which candidate won. Instead they should be angered that such a delay and vote had to take place to begin with.
During the two-month lull, the governor-elect lost valuable time that could have been used to develop an agenda for the Legislature. And although we’re sure Mr. Musgrove has already begun such work, it was certainly slowed, if not disrupted, because of the unusual circumstances involving the race.
We urge lawmakers not to take the attitude that &uot;it will never happen again.&uot; With the increasing popularity of third-party candidates the chance of such a dead-heat race is, in fact, quite likely.
We believe one of the first items on the Legislature’s agenda should be to remedy the situation by changing the constitutional requirements in regards to electing state officials.