Official Mississippi Census Numbers ReleasedBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Feb 2011 02:37pm |
Mississippi has received its official population numbers from the 20-10 U-S Census. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that these new statistics are vital to the state's redistricting process.
There are not many surprises in the new census data.
DeSoto, Lamar, Madison and Rankin Counties were some of the fastest growing counties during the last decade. DeSoto County alone added 54-thousand residents.
Mississippi's most populous county, Harrison County, saw some decrease, due in part to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Senate redistricting Chair Terry Burton of Newton says now that they have the official numbers they can start carving up the state's voting districts.
"Just about 33-thousand people short of 3-million people in the state of Mississippi. We will divide that 2,967,000 people by 52 and determine how much we need to put in each Senate district," Burton said.
Once both houses agree on a plan, the state has to submit it to the Justice Department to make sure it complies with Federal Voting Rights Guidelines.
House Redistricting Chair Tommy Reynolds of Charleston has no doubt that the house will be able to craft their map before the end of the regular legislative session.
"You know, if we fail to do it that is a failure of the political process and a failure us as elected leaders of this state. That is a tremendous failure," Reynolds said.
Failure to reach an agreement can have a number of consequences, such as sending the legislature into special session or requiring a judicial panel to draw the lines.
Lt. Governor Phil Bryant has indicated that the senate will not to rubber stamp the house version of the voting districts, which has been customary in the past.
Bryant recently appeared with a group known as Mississippians for Fair Redistricting calling for more compact and fewer split precincts.
"We just want to have a fair and accurate redistricting plan. We want to try to have as few split districts as absolutely possible. Have an open process and follow the state laws," Bryant said.
If the state doesn't finalize a plan by June first, which is the filling deadline for this year's primary elections, elected officials across the state could be forced to run again next year.
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