[Last year] Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed into law a bill that will restore voting rights to people with felony records who are on probation or parole, as long as they have been out of prison for five years. Both chambers of the state’s GOP-controlled legislature passed House Bill 265 with bipartisan support in May 2018.
The state’s 1890 Constitution …requires candidates for statewide office to win not just a majority of the vote but also a majority of the 122 districts in the state House. If a candidate wins a majority of the statewide vote but not a majority of the districts, the members of the Republican-controlled state House choose who wins the election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the Mississippi House of Representatives picks a winner from the two candidates who received the most votes.
…That’s unless a federal judge strikes down the constitutional provision. A federal judge in Jackson is set to hear oral arguments in McLemore v. Hosemann on Friday.
Tyson, 63, owes court-ordered fines and fees for three felony convictions, one for robbery, two for theft, all decades old. Under a Florida law that went into effect July 1, he must pay those penalties before casting a ballot or risk being prosecuted for voter fraud.
Tyson searched court records, first on his own, then with the help of a nonprofit legal advocacy group. They say that because Florida has no comprehensive system for tracking such fines, the documents don’t make clear what he owes. The records, viewed by Reuters, show potential sums ranging from $846 to a couple thousand dollars related to crimes he committed in the late 1970s and 1990s. Tyson says he won’t risk voting until Florida authorities can tell him for sure.
Since Reconstruction in Mississippi — the state with the highest percentage population of African-Americans — there has not been a single black statewide office holder.
…The framers explicitly stated, “It is the manifest intention of this Convention to secure to the State of Mississippi ‘white supremacy,’ ” according to the journal of the proceedings.
…To that end, they adopted a two-tiered path to win statewide office, like governor or attorney general. Candidates must get both a majority of the popular vote, and win in a majority of Mississippi’s 122 state house districts, (only 42 of which are majority black). Otherwise, the state house of representatives gets to decide who wins.