You unfortunately can't see it right now, but Nicholas Beaudrot left a comment on this post asking how it is that one can win the Governorship of Texas without a majority of the vote. The answer, of course, is that's the law. Let's take a look.
The overriding statute is this one.
§ 2.001. PLURALITY VOTE REQUIRED. Except as otherwise provided by law, to be elected to a public office, a candidate must receive more votes than any other candidate for the office.
Comptroller of Public Accounts - 1998 general election
Carole Keeton Rylander REP 1,821,231 49.54%
Paul Hobby DEM 1,801,008 48.99%
Alex Monchak LIB 53,536 1.45%
Race Total 3,675,775
So what are the exceptions to this?
Exception the first: Primaries.
§ 172.003. MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED. Except as otherwise provided by this code, to receive a political party's nomination, a candidate in a primary election must receive a majority of the total number of votes received by all the candidates for the nomination.
Exception Numero Two-o: Special elections to fill vacancies in the State House and State Senate.
§ 203.003. MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED. To be elected in a special election for an unexpired term, a candidate must receive a majority of the total number of votes received by all candidates for the unexpired term.
So, for state and county elections - that is, the elections held in even-numbered years - the rule is that if it's in November, the high score wins. Otherwise, you need to clear that magic 50% plus one hurdle.
What about municipal and other local elections, like school board elections? I did not find the relevant laws for those contests (I'm probably looking in the wrong place - if an actual lawyer wants to set me straight, please send me an email), but we know that Houston and San Antonio (to name two) do require majority votes. I'd guess this is the norm around the state - if I ever get this comments problem fixed, you can chime in here with your location's rules. If this is true, then the default of plurality-only is really more exception than rule, since it only applies to elections in November of even-numbered years for expired terms of office. In any case, that's the law.
Hope that clears things up. Bottom line: It only takes a plurality this November.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 03, 2006 to That's our Lege | TrackBack