A federal court says they will take control of Mississippi's congressional redistricting if the state legislature can't make their own plan before their deadline.

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Federal Court to Weigh in on Mississippi Congressional Redistricting

By Daniel Cherry | Published 23 Nov 2011 12:11pm | comments

Three federal judges say they will redraw lines for Mississippi's congressional districts if the state legislature fails to meet their deadline. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the legislature has less than two weeks to act or the court will step in.

The 2010 Census shows Mississippi's 2nd Congressional district lost population. Now congressional districts have to be redrawn to comply with one man one vote. Rickey Cole is the chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. He says the new lines have to be in place well before the upcoming elections in March.

"The most important thing is that every Mississippian needs to know who their congressman is, who their congressional candidates are so this situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible. We don't want any uncertainty out there. We need to know where the lines are, where the candidates are going to run so people can pay attention to the candidates and know who to vote for."

A legislative reapportionment committee is charged with drawing new lines, but at present has made no decisions.

Carroll Rhodes is an attorney representing a group proposing their own congressional map. Their plan, supported by Congressman Bennie Thompson would move Panola and parts of Hinds, Madison, Grenada, and Leake counties into Thompson's 2nd district.

"They have been working on it since the Spring and have failed to reach an agreement. We don't see where the legislature would be able to reach an agreement before the deadline now."

If lawmakers don't act, a federal court says they're prepared to draw their own lines. Delbert Hosemann says it's important the new map is in place soon because delays could mean the state would have to hold two elections. One for the presidential primary and another for congressional offices.

"Today the court said that they're going to proceed to redistrict Mississippi. I think that's very good. That hopefully means that by January the 3rd we'll have new congressional districts and we won't have to postpone the presidential primaries or hold a special election which could cost Mississippians $1,000,000."

The legislature has until December 4th to draw new maps before the federal court takes over.

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