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The general assembly shall not in any manner create any state debt exceeding the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, except in case of war, invasion or insurrection, unless the debt shall be authorized by some law for some single subject; and such law shall not take effect until it shall have been submitted to the people at a general election, and have received the sanction of a majority of all the votes cast on the subject at such election.
In the six New England states, the executive and legislative branches of the government are all elected annually. The representation in the lower branch of the legislature is more numerous in those states than in the other states of the Union ; the representatives in the New England states being elected by towns to the house of representatives, while in all other parts of the Union the representation in that branch of the legislature is by counties ; districts in South Carolina, and parishes in Louisiana, being local divisions synonymous with counties.
An executive council, elected by the people, is peculiar to the state of New Hampshire. There are, however, executive councils, elected by the legislature, in Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina.
The governor possesses the veto power, or qualified negative, on bills and resolutions which have been passed by the legislature, in the following eleven states, viz. : Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Texas; in these states the executive veto can only be overruled by a two-third vote of both branches of the legislature.
In the following states the governor may return bills or resolutions passed by the legislature, but his veto may be overruled by a majority of the members elected to both houses, viz. : Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. In Illinois, the governor and the judges of the supreme court form a council to revise all bills which have passed the general assembly, and a majority of the council may return bills with their objections, to the house where the same originated ; after which, if approved by a majority of all the members elected to both houses, the bill may become a law.
In the following eight states, the approval of the governor is not required to bills or resolutions passed by the legislature, but the same may become laws, after receiving the signature of the speaker or presiding officer of each branch of the legislature, viz.: Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio.
In all of the states, except Virginia and South Carolina, the governor is elected by the people; in those two states he is chosen by the legislature. Lieutenant-governors are chosen by the people in Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, and Texas; in Virginia and South Carolina by the legislature. In the other states, the office of lieutenant-governor does not exist.
In the New England states, a majority of all the votes given is required to constitute a choice, in elections generally, by the people; there are exceptions in Vermont, as to senators, also in Connecticut, in elections for state senators, members of congress, and on second trials, at adjourned meetings for the choice of representatives to the general assembly, in which cases a plurality of votes only is required for a choice. In all of the states except those of New England, a plurality of votes given effects a choice in elections by the people.
In all of the states, at popular elections, the manner of voting is by ballot, except in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas, in which states, in all elections to any office of trust, honor, or profit, with exceptions as to electors of president and vicepresident, the votes are given openly, or vivâ voce, and not by ballot. In some of the states the manner of voting is subject to be changed by the legislature.
North Carolina is now the only state which requires a freehold qualification for electors for either branch of the legislature, members of the senate in that state being chosen by freemen possessed of a freehold within the district where they reside and vote,
of fifty acres of land. In Virginia, freeholders may vote for members of the house of delegates, in any county where they own a freehold of the value named in the constitution ; housekeepers and heads of families who shall have been assessed with a part of the revenue of the commonwealth, within the preceding year when they vote, are also entitled to vote at elections.
Persons of color are entitled to vote at elections in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont. Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In the state of New York they are also qualified to vote, if possessed of a freehold estate of the value of two hundred and fifty dollars, without any incumbrance. In all other states of the Union, persons of color, or those of African descent, are excluded from the right of voting at elections.
Ministers of the gospel are not eligible as legislators in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. In South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri, they are eligible neither as governors nor legislators. In New York and Delaware they are not eligible to any office whatever.
New Hampshire and Massachusetts are the only states whose constitutions make provision for religious establishments. In New Hampshire, the legislature is empowered to authorize, and in Massachusetts the legislature is enjoined to require, the several towns, parishes, &c., in the state to make adequate provision, at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of Protestant teachers, or ministers of the gospel.
The council of censors is peculiar to Vermont ; that body is chosen once in seven years, and among their other powers, they can call a convention to amend the constitution of the state.
Massachusetts is the only state whose constitution appoints titles to the officers of government. The governor is entitled “ His Excellency," and the lieutenant-governor “His Honor."