Bounds advocates changes to runoff law

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back in September, the city of Poplarville made national headlines when a drawing of the lot was held to determine the winner of the Sept. 9 alderman runoff.
Glenn Bolin and Stephanie Bounds each received 177 votes.
A previous Item article stated that four candidates initially vied for the vacant alderman seat on Aug. 26. Former alderman Randy Brown relinquished his seat after an Attorney’s General opinion found that his service on the Board of Aldermen was a conflict of interest due to his employment as a law enforcement officer with the Biloxi Police Department.
Because no contender received more than 50 percent plus one vote in the general election, a runoff between Bounds and Bolin was held in September, which resulted in a tie.
In accordance with Mississippi Law, Bounds and Bolin drew straws to determine the city’s next alderman. Bolin was declared the winner of the draw after he drew the longer straw.
As a result, Bounds is now on a crusade to change Mississippi’s tiebreaker laws.
“After we tied on Sept. 9, none of us felt good about the drawing of the lot,” Bounds said.
Bounds said after the draw, thoughts kept creeping into her mind about laws on the books in other states concerning how to determine the winner of a tie.
She, along with former campaign manager Jensen Owen, researched methods used across the country.
What she found was that 15 states do not use the drawing of the lot method to determine the winner in a tie.
“The majority of states host another runoff,” Bounds said. “Some defer to a higher legislative power to decide the winner and in Hawaii, a complicated math formula is used.”
Bounds’ proposal is for a second runoff to be held two to three weeks after a tied vote instead of drawing straws or flipping a coin.
“A bill is being drafted by State Representative Herb Frierson and will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session,” Bounds said. “I don’t ever want to hear of anyone going through what I went through again. I’m not a bad sport, nor am I trying to make a fuss, but our democracy is more important.”
Bounds said voters should decide each election.
“We received some negative press because of this and I want Mississippi to be on top,” Bounds said. “Voting is our right and every public officer should be elected by the citizens of that state not by flipping a coin or drawing or a straw, it’s too important.”

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