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US Justice Department Next Step For Mississippi Redistricting.

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 May 2012 05:03pm | comments
A lawmaker uses his phone to take a picture of the senate redistricting map

The US Justice Department could soon be the next step in determining whether Mississippi's new voting lines are legal. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the state senate approved it's map and the house map yesterday.

Debate over new voting lines for the 52 Senate districts lasted just over an hour before the legislatures voted 46-to-5 to approve the new lines.

Among the dissenting votes was Senator Bill Stone of Ashland, who is one of the two white democrats who would have to run against each other if they wanted to run for reelection.

“I had a district that was really set up well. Great communities of interest. You had Benton, Marshall, rural Tippah County. It was a great district that was set up for the people that lived there. And what they have done is they have split it into four parts,” Stone said.

Stone says it is too early to determine if he will run again.

The maps, for both the House and Senate, do have a long way to go before they become law.

The U-S Justice Department will review themaps to make sure they are fair to minorities.

This is a requirement because of Mississippi's history of racial discrimination.

Senate Redistricting Chairman Merle Flower of Southaven says he is confident the map will be approved.

“We meet all the requirements and pertinent laws of the state of Mississippi and the Voting Rights Act. We anticipate that it will go to the Department of Justice and be approved swiftly. And these lines will stand the test of time and be available for the 2015 election cycle,” Flower said.

There is also the lingering possibility that the courts could require all 174 lawmakers to re-do the recent November election this fall in the new districts.

Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman believes a second round of elections would be unnecessary.

“I think we should stay where we are. I think the people got elected for four years and they should serve for four years. And then we should use the amended, once it get qualified by the Justice Department and everybody else, the amended sections should be used for the elections for next time,” Hoseman said.

The last time law makers had to run in back to back elections was in 1991 and 1992.

The districts have to be updated every ten years to reflect changes in population.


A lawmaker uses his phone to take a picture of the senate redistricting map



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