A federal judge ruled Friday not to block Mississippi’s two-step process for electing statewide officeholders, which was enacted during the Jim Crow era.
The two-step process was created after the Reconstruction era in efforts to make sure white people were able to remain in power in the state’s government. No other state in the nation has the process in effect.
The Associated Press, by way of the Miami Herald, reports the ruling came from U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, who will not progress the preliminary injunction that would stop the process from being used in the elections next week. However, the case could be reopened in the future.
“That process cannot occur before the November 2019 votes are counted or within a short time after the election. Indeed, it was already too late when this suit was filed,” Jordan wrote in his ruling. “But based on Plaintiffs’ argument during the hearing, it appears the process could be attempted before the next statewide election cycle. If not, then by that time there would presumably have been a trial on the merits, and the Court could craft its own ‘remedial plan’ if necessary.”
African-American plaintiffs sued the state this year arguing that the system is unconstitutional and violates the principle of one person, one vote. Jordan stated the argument is “their strongest claim.”
“No matter what I do, I would encourage the other side to appeal immediately,” Jordan said during an Oct. 11 hearing, according to the Clarion Legion.
According to the state’s 1890 constitution, a statewide candidate is required to win a majority of the popular vote and electoral vote. One electoral vote is awarded to the top vote-getter in each of the 122 state House districts. If no one wins, the election is decided by the House, and representatives don’t have to abide by the vote of their districts.
The lawsuit was filed May 30 against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi’s top elections officer, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who would preside if there’s a House vote. Both officials are Republican.