Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Setting a 5 p.m. Deadline for Presidential Elector Paperwork

On March 19, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour signed SB 3058. It sets a 5 p.m. deadline for presidential elector paperwork. The old law set the deadline date, but not an hour. This bill only came into existence because of the 2008 incident at which the Secretary of State’s office rejected the paperwork for Brian Moore, Socialist Party presidential candidate. Thanks to Brian Moore for this news.


Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Setting a 5 p.m. Deadline for Presidential Elector Paperwork — No Comments

  1. This would seem to pretty conclusively prove that Moore was correct; Mississippi law did not require filing by 5 PM during the 2008 presidential election cycle.

  2. Gee – all sorts of deadlines in election law stuff.

    Where is that MODEL State Election Law — for the MORON State party hacks especially ???

  3. The preponderance of evidence is that the Mississippi Legislature thought that the Secretary of State could exercise a lick of common sense. Obviously, Mississippi is still living in the 20th century.

  4. If # 4 is correct, one wonders why the Legislature felt it needed to change the law.

  5. Pingback: A small victory for electoral activism: Change in Mississippi law | Independent Political Report

  6. #5 Because the legal case proved that common sense was no longer sufficient. Mississippi was dragged into the 21st century.

    Or perhaps the MNLP did some quiet lobbying, and it had nothing to do with the lawsuit. They did not appeal the case. They probably realized that 5 pm was a reasonable deadline, especially since the SOS almost always closed at that time, and simply asked that a small change be made to clarify the law.

    The sponsor of the bill is chair of the elections committee and introduced a bazillion bills dealing with elections. Some probably dealt with issues that were brought to his attention, for which he really didn’t care too much one way or the other. SB 3058 was approved by unanimous votes in both houses, and I suspect that there was perfunctory debate.

    I liked all the other word changes that were included in SB 3058.

    Mississippi requires that initiative petitions be signed by voters in all 5 of its 4 congressional districts; has an election procedure for the timing of special US senate elections that is impossible to interpret; and has election laws that specifically state a time is Central Standard (sic).

  7. #7, none of that makes any “common sense.” Why would the Natural Law Party want a 5 PM deadline? “Common sense,” morevoer, teaches that freer markets produce better electoral results.

  8. #4 and #7: Texas is expected to enter the 20th century any day now.

    When do you expect Gov. Perry to call a secession convention?

    You should love the Senate Elections chairman, since he says he’s for a Louisiana-style “open primary”… although, to my knowledge, he’s never introduced such a bill.

    The state Supreme Court had no problem interpreting the law on Mississippi’s special elections. Again, you should love that setup, since those elections are conducted as “top two open primaries.”

  9. #8 Why would the MNLP want a 4 PM or a 6 PM deadline? There is simply no reason for having something that is different than regular office hours. Being pragmatists, they saw no reason to make a federal case out of the issue, when a simple clarifying change to the law would do.

    In the cases where the Election Code has set a different time than 5 PM, there is a good reason for it.

  10. # 10 Conjecture about the Natural Law Party “quietly lobbying” in Mississippi for a 5 PM deadline is absurd. Mississippi changed the law because it got caught and called on the rug by the Fifth Circuit. “Common sense,” after all, required accepting the filing by Moore and the Natural Law Party even though it was a couple of minutes past 5 PM. Mississippi would have done that for the Republican Party.

  11. #9 It is the unalienable right of the the People at all times to alter, reform, or abolish their form of government, in such manner as they may think expedient. Governor Perry has no authority to institute or initiate such a change.

    If you will review the 1845 legislation passed by Congress, you will see that it called for the government of the Republic of Texas to transfer possession of forts and similar facilities to the US government, and transfer the public lands to a newly formed state government, and to call a constitutional convention so that the People could draft a constitution for a State government. And if the People did so, then Congress would recognize the state government.

    But if the government of the Republic of Texas did not permit a constitutional convention to be organized, President Polk was authorized to recognize a convention organized by the People.

    IOW, Congress recognized that the People of Texas had a right to form a new government whenever they chose to do so. Congress later approved the state constitution that reiterated that right in the first paragraph of its Bill of Rights.

  12. #9 Haley Barbour and Jim Hood are reasonably smart men and they interpreted the senate special election law differently. That is why the Supreme Court had to interpret the law. There should be no reason to have a law regarding when the people may elect their Senator that is so complicated that you have to have the Supreme Court to untangle it.

    60 days is plenty of time to hold a special election.

  13. #10: The Natural Law Party is not big enough to do much lobbying. The party nominated Brian Moore for president via a conference call.

    #12: You’re correct that states have the right to secede. I was being sarcastic about Gov. Perry, since he has raised the topic of secession.

    #13: Gov. Barbour’s and attorney general Hood’s positions were colored by their party affiliations; Barbour is a Republican and Hood is a yellow-dog Democrat.

    Hood, incidentally, would be the Democrats’ strongest possible gubernatorial nominee in 2011, but he has announced that he’s seeking re-election. This means the GOP nominee will be the odds-on favorite (Gov. Barbour is ineligible to run again, and the likely GOP nominee is lieutenant governor Phil Bryant).

  14. #14: I take it that SB 2201 was an “open primary” bill introduced by Terry Burton, chairman of the Senate Elections Committee.

    Was the bill for “open primaries” for local, state, AND congressional elections?

    There’s at least one “open primary” bill in every session, and it never gets out of committee.

  15. #11 The 5th Circuit told Brian Moore he should go file his case in the Mississippi courts (or at least they forcefully suggested to the district court that they should tell Moore to do so).

    The Republican Party would have known when the Secretary of State’s office would close. And in any event the Secretary of State said that he would follow the strict interpretation of the interrelating Mississippi laws in the future.

    I bet that Mississippi will claim in their VRA filing that this is no effective change in their election procedures, that the deadline has always been 5 PM, and they have simply consolidated the effect from 3 interacting statutes in one place.

  16. #15/10 A conference call would have been an effective way to organize the MNLP’s lobbying. The votes were unanimous in both houses. It wouldn’t take much persuasion (“You and I both know that Delbert closes every afternoon at 5, so we’re just clarifying matters for the lawyers from Up North.”)

    #15/13 The problem is that the law is essentially nonsensical. It provides that the special election be held within 90 days, but then sets an exception that would apply to 3 out of 4 years (when Mississippi holds a general or congressional election). The exception says that in those years, that the special election would be coincident with the general election.

    When Trent Lott had resigned, the general election in 2007 had already been held. And if a vacancy occurred a short while before a general election, it would have to be held on short notice.

    The lower court in Mississippi agreed with Hood, so interpretation of the law is evidently not clear cut.

    It would simplify matters to set the special election within 60 days, but if there were a general election from between 61 and 120 days, the special election would be held coincidentally.

  17. #16 Yes. SB 2201 was sponsored by Terry Burton. It would actually eliminate “primaries” and replace them with “preferential elections”, which should please you.

    Yes it would have applied to all offices. The preferential election would be 3 weeks before the general election. If a candidate received a majority in the preferential election, he alone would be placed on the general election ballot.

    Candidates who wished to run as a partisan candidate would continue to file with party, who would forward that to the state (just as now happens for the party primaries). I don’t know whether there would be any authority for the party to block a filing by anyone who was a member of the party.

    Note: Foster v Love was specific to Louisiana, because they not only did not allow write-in votes, they actually cancelled the runoff and certified the election of the winner of the primary.

  18. #18 One wonders who holds those seats. Bet a whole bunch of Natural Law Party members! What power!! Or maybe too much kool-aid?

  19. #20 Most Southern legislatures don’t have the strong partisan divide that is often present in other parts of the country. Mississippi legislators are probably more responsive to constituents.

    You may be mixing up the NLP and the Peoples Temple.

  20. # 21 There are NOT white rightwing fascist Elephants versus black leftwing communist Donkeys in the Southern States — as in most of the U.S.A. ???

    P.R. and A.V.

  21. #22 There may well be, but in Mississippi they unanimously affirmed that it had been the legislature’s intent all along that when no specific time deadline was mentioned, that ordinary Secretary of State office hours would be respected.

  22. #18: Gov. Barbour (R) wanted to have the special U. S. Senate election in November 2008 because that would be advantageous to the Republican Roger Wicker. Mississippi has voted Republican for president in every election since 1980– and in nine of the last 10 presidential elections– and that’s when we have our largest turnout. The Democrat Hood, in contrast, wanted to have the election at a date prior to November.

    #21: The Mississippi legislature for years divided along sectional and urban vs. rural lines, although it has recently become more partisan. Some of the Democrats are “in name only;” the fact that the black vote routinely goes 90%-plus Democratic prevents more candidates from running as Republicans. A candidate in a jurisdiction with a sizable black population knows that he would be kissing off a big chunk of the vote if he ran as a Republican.

    The Republicans have de facto control of the state Senate. The Republican lieutenant governor, of course, appoints all of the Senate committees and is the presiding officer.

  23. #25/18 And Barbour and Lott probably looked at the statutes (state and federal) and decided that it worked out best if Lott resigned in December rather than January, based on their interpretation. And Hood looked at it a different way because he wanted a special election. If their roles had been reversed they would have likely argued the opposite.

    What is inane is deciding because the general election is 300+ days away to hold off until the general election, but then go ahead and hold a primary election and runoff for the other seat, plus hold a special election for Wicker’s congressional seat.

    Mississippi should switch its senate vacancy procedure to that used for congressional vacancies; except the governor should have to act within 10 days, and the special election should be in not less than 60 days, unless there is a general election with 120 days.

  24. #26: Lott was facing a December deadline to resign in order to avoid a waiting period for becoming a lobbyist.

    Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans required a runoff primary for Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat.

    It was really a confusing situation in the election(s) for Roger Wicker’s old House seat. All of the Democratic losers in the special election dropped out of the regular Democratic primary.

    The difference is that the governor fills a Senate vacancy, which he cannot do vis-a-vis the U. S. House. Thus it is more important to go ahead and have a special House election.

    When Mississippi had its 1947 U. S. Senate election, special elections were nonpartisan, first-past-the-post events. John Stennis was elected with 26.9%; he would have lost if there had been a runoff, since he was more moderate, and the second- and third-place finishers were both States Rights Democrats.

    Soon after that, the state House speaker, a States Righter, had the law changed to require 50%-plus to win a special election.

  25. #27 That is what I meant by Lott consulting both federal and state laws.

    Why is it important to deny or defer voters their right to elect their senator? That was the reason for the 17th Amendment in the first place.

    If as senatorial vacancy occurs in the fallow year (2009, 2013, etc.) what is the rationale for permitting the governor to set the special election up to almost 6 years in the future?

  26. #28: It is, of course, up to the state legislature as to whether the governor appoints a successor or a special election is held.

    If the senatorial vacancy occurs in an off year, the election is held no later than the next regular congressional elections. Roger Wicker, e. g., was elected in November 2008 to serve the remaining four years on the Senate term.

    BTW: In the 1961 TX U. S. Senate election, who made the runoff against John Tower? Was it Jim Wright?

  27. #29 William Blakely, who had been appointed to fill the vacancy. He is notable for having been appointed to the senate twice. The first time in 1957, he did not run in the special election, and Ralph Yarborough was elected with 38% of the vote. After that, the majority requirement was added that would come into play in 1961, when Blakely did run in the primary. Wright finished 3rd.

    I realize it is up to the Mississippi legislature to set the timing of special elections (though Congress can override). The Mississippi legislature has done a particularly bad job of it.

    I made a mistake. In years in which there is no general state election or congressional election (2009, 2013, etc.) a senate special election is held within 10+90 days. It is vacancies for the House for which the governor may set a special election at least 60 days from the time of his proclamation. 500 days is at least 60 days.

  28. #30: What created the Senate vacancy in 1957?

    I recall that Price Daniel was US senator before he was governor.

    No governor would wait 500 days to have a special election for the US House, since people are always anxious to have representation for their district in Congress.

    Jim Eastland was appointed to fill Mississippi’s vacancy in the US Senate in 1941 but did not run in the special election later that year. In the 1942 election for the full six-year term, Eastland beat the incumbent who had won the ’41 special election.

  29. Did Tower lead the first round in 1961?

    Did Tower have to run again in ’62 for the remaining four years? I recall that he beat AG Waggoner Carr, a conservative Dem, in 1966. I got to witness a little of that campaign when I attended a convention in Dallas.

    I heard Congressman Ed Foreman (R) speak when I made a 1964 trip to Dallas. He lost that fall, when Lyndon Johnson pulverized Goldwater in the presidential race. Foreman was later also elected to the US House from New Mexico.

  30. #31 Price Daniel resigned as senator to become governor. At the time, he had served 4 years of his senate term. A curiosity is that he resigned the Senate on January 14, 1957 and was sworn in as governor on the 15th. Blakely was appointed by the outgoing governor, Allan Shivers on the 15th.

    Daniel was re-elected twice, but was defeated by John Connally in 1962.

    Tower, 30.9%
    Blakely, 18.1%
    Jim Wright, 16.2% (Congressman, later Speaker)
    Will Wilson, 11.5% (AG, famed for raid on Galveston)
    Maury Maverick, 9.9%
    Henry B Gonzalez, 9.2% (TX senator, later congressman)
    65 others, 4.2%

    Supposedly Gonzalez and Maverick did not speak for 20 years after they split the liberal vote.

    LBJ had run for both the Senate (Tower was the GOP candidate) and VP, so he was elected for a term ending in January 1967. Once a senator is elected, they serve the remainder of the term. An appointed senator serves until the successor is elected. So the election in 1966 was Tower’s first election to a full term.

  31. I seem to recall that Price Daniel’s son was either murdered, or he committed murder. Wasn’t Daniel a judge after he left the governorship?

    Lloyd Bentsen also ran simultaneously for the Senate and VP in 1988. So did Joe Lieberman in 2000.

  32. Pingback: Mississippi clarifies filing deadline « Citizen Elector

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