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Court Rules on Redistricting

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 May 2011 04:20pm | comments
Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman

The Mississippi legislature now has until the end of the month to redraw to voting districts or lawmakers will run under current districts for this fall's election. That's the ruling by a three judge panel on a redistricting lawsuit. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on what the decision means for this year's elections.

State lawmakers failed to redraw state voting lines during the three month session earlier this year....the state is required to redraw the lines every ten years to adjust for shifts in population.

The Mississippi NAACP filed a lawsuit seeking to block elections under current lines claiming they are unconstitutionally out of balance.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson says they are considering appealing the judges' decision.

"Both the Senate and the House plans are clearly mal-apportioned therefore clearly in violation of the constitution. And so as a result of that and the ruling of this three judge panel, we are going to review the order and then make a determination from there about next steps," Johnson said.

Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman opposed the NAACP saying the state is not required to redraw voting lines until next year.

"The plan language of the Mississippi Constitution thus demonstrates that under state law the legislature is not required to reapportion itself until its next regular session," Hoseman said.

Hoseman says state legislators who win this fall will be elected to a four year term.

The court will decide if there will be another round of elections next fall after the legislature redraws voting lines during the 2012 legislative session.

House Redistricting chairman Tommy Reynolds of Charleston says this is a new approach to redistricting, and it is impossible to predict what the court will decide next year.

"There is no guarantee, or I wouldn't even say it is more likely than not, that there will be a special election. The conventional wisdom has been turned on its head all the way around," Reynolds said.

The other option is for Governor Haley Barbour to call a special legislative session to redraw voting lines before the June 1st primary filing deadline.

Governor Barbour does not seem inclined to call a special session, releasing a statement that said....”The court has spoken. The election will go forward and we will have another one next year.”

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Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman


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