Mississippi

Overview

Mississippi Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

Congressional and legislative maps are enacted by the State Legislature with the aid of a 20-member advisory commission. The Governor can veto the plans.

The Legislature can override a veto with a two-thirds vote. Republicans currently have a veto-proof majority in the upper chamber. No party currently has a veto-proof majority in the lower chamber.

The advisory commission, The Standing Joint Congressional Redistricting Committee, serves in an advisory capacity only. It is composed of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Elections Committee of the Mississippi Senate; eight members of the Mississippi House, two from each congressional district, appointed by the Mississippi House Speaker; and eight members of the Mississippi Senate, two from each congressional district, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. If the number of congressional districts of the state change, the number appointed from the Senate and appointed from the House of Mississippi by congressional districts is adjusted. The Committee meets to elect the chairman and officers of the Committee when requested by the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the Mississippi House. Maps and other measures are approved by a simple majority in the advisory committee. The Joint Legislative Committee plans are presented to the Legislature. Legislative committees make recommendations to their house on or before the 45th day of the session, and the Legislature has a whole must act on the maps before the end of the session. Joint Congressional Committee maps must be presented to the Governor and the Legislature, but action is not mandated.

Legislative

A five-member backup commission is convened if the Legislature fails to enact a legislative map in a special session. The Commission has 180 days to apportion the Legislature after the adjournment of the special session. The backup Commission is made up of the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the majority leaders of the Mississippi House and Senate. The final maps are submitted to the Secretary of State. The Mississippi Code and Constitution do not specify the voting threshold for the backup commission.

Source: Miss. Const. art. XIII, § 254; Miss. Code Ann. §§ 5-3-91, 5-3-93, 5-3-103, 5-3-121, 5-3-123, 5-3-129 (2019).


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Federal Court’s Plan (Split-controlled Legislature failed to pass plan)
      • Adopted = December 30, 2011
    • Litigation History
      • Smith v. Hosemann, 852 F.Supp.2d 757 (S.D. Miss. 2011): After the Mississippi Legislature failed to pass a congressional plan by its legal deadline, the federal court which had ordered the state’s congressional districts in 2002 was petitioned to amend its earlier order and adopt new congressional districts as to reflect the 2010 census. On December 30, 2011, the district court issued its opinion adopting the congressional plan it proposed in its December 19, 2011 order.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansJR 1 (House); JR 201 (Senate)
      • Passed = May 2, 2012 (House); May 3, 2012 (Senate)
      • Signed = May 8-9, 2012 (House); May 7-8, 2012 (Senate)
      • Preclearance = Granted on September 14, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • Miss. State Conf. of the NAACP v. Barbour, No. 3:11-cv-159 (S.D. Miss. May 16, 2011): After the 2010 census results were released, plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s legislative districts as now violating the one person, one vote constitutional requirement due to population shifts and requesting the court to order new districts be implemented prior to the 2011 legislative elections. On May 16, 2011, the district court ruled that it would be improper for the federal court to impose a remedy at that time because the Legislature was not required to reapportion itself until 2012 and let the 2011 elections proceed under the old maps.
        • Aff’d, 132 S.Ct. 542 (2011).
      • Thomas v. Bryant, 366 F.Supp.3d 786 (S.D. Miss. 2019): A group of African-American voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging one of the state’s senatorial districts as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act on the grounds of vote dilution. On February 16, 2019, the district court ruled for the plaintiffs and ordered the district at issue to be redrawn.
        • Aff’d, Thomas v. Bryant, 938 F.3d 134 (5th Cir. 2019); vacated as moot, Thomas v. Reeves, 961 F.3d 800 (5th Cir. 2020).
        • Remedial Senate PlanJR 202
          • Passed = March 27, 2019 (R-controlled)
          • Signed = April 3, 2019

2000

  • Congressional
    • Federal Court’s Plan (Adopted after D-controlled Legislature failed to pass plan in time for 2002 election)
    • Litigation History
      • Smith v. Clark, 189 F.Supp.2d 512 (S.D. Miss. 2002): After the Democratic-controlled Legislature failed to pass a congressional plan, plaintiffs filed lawsuits in both federal and state court challenging the existing congressional map as unconstitutionally malapportioned and seeking to have the court draw and adopt a new plan. The state court adopted a plan, but when preclearance for that plan took too long, the federal court enjoined the implementation of the state court’s plan and adopted its own plan, proposed on February 4, 2002, for use in the 2002 primary and general elections on February 26, 2002.
      • Mauldin v. Branch, 866 So.2d 429 (Miss. 2003): After the state court adopted a congressional redistricting plan when the Legislature failed to do so, the issue of whether the state court had authority to adopt the congressional plan was appealed to the state Supreme Court. On December 18, 2003, the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled that the chancery court lacked jurisdiction over the case and that the only state governmental entity authorized to draw new congressional districts was the Legislature.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansJR 1 (House); JR 201 (Senate)
      • Passed = March 21, 2002 (D-controlled)
      • Signed = March 26, 2002 (House); March 25-26, 2002 (Senate)
      • Preclearance = Granted on June 17, 2002
    • Litigation History
      • Woullard v. State, No. 3:05-cv-97 (S.D. Miss. June 29, 2006): Registered Mississippi voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging portions of the Legislature’s enacted Senate redistricting plan as a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On June 29, 2006, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants and upheld the plan after finding that racial considerations did not predominate when drawing the challenged district.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Initiatives and referendums are not permitted to amend statutes. Indirect initiatives are permitted to amend the state Constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend the Constitution, but not statutes.

Single-Subject Rule
There is not a single-subject rule.

Initiative Subject Restrictions
Initiatives cannot be used for the proposal, modification or repeal of the Bill of Rights of the state Constitution, provisions of the Constitution relating to the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System, the constitutional guarantee that the right of any person to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or organization, and the initiative process for proposing amendments.

Signature Requirements
The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 12% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous gubernatorial election. Because Mississippi holds gubernatorial elections on odd-numbered years (2015, 2019, 2023, etc.), because the circulation period for petitions is one year, and because elections are not held on the odd-numbered years in which gubernatorial elections are not held (2017, 2021, 2025, etc.), signature requirements are based on elections that occurred at least 3 years prior. For instance, ballot measures on the 2020 ballot have had signature requirements based on the 2015 election. 718,185 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2015 General Election in Mississippi, so 86,185 signatures are required for constitutional amendments. 884,911 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2019 General Election in Mississippi, so constitutional amendments that would become law in 2022, 2023, or 2024 require 106,190 signatures to be brought to the Legislature. Proponents cannot collect greater than 20% of all signatures from a single congressional district.

Submission Deadlines
Initiative petitions must be submitted at least 90 days prior to convening the Legislature in the year the petition is to appear on the ballot (October 6, 2021).

Circulation Period
The circulation period for initiative petitions is one year.

Ballot Title and Summary
The Ballot Title and Summary are written by the Attorney General. Expedited reviews for Titles and Summaries are permitted.

Other Requirements
Circulators must be residents of the state. A fiscal impact statement is required for all initiatives and any legislative alternatives. Amendments must receive both a majority of ballots cast for or against them, and they must receive votes equal to 40% of all votes cast in the election. Legislatively referred amendments only require a majority of votes cast for or against them. The Legislature can only send an amendment to voters by passing a measure by a two-thirds vote in each chamber. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots, but not on primary, special, and odd-year election ballots.

Source: Miss. Const. art. XV, §273. Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17 (2019). Mississippi Secretary of State Website


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