Supervisors fail to settle on new county voting lines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 8, 2002

District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon shows District 3 school trustee Pearline Williams where two redistricting plans differ.(The Vicksburg Paper/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[01/08/02]Supervisors didn’t embrace a citizen plan, but didn’t endorse any others at a third and perhaps final public hearing on how to redraw voting lines.

“The only problem is in District 1, said Supervisor David McDonald who is serving a first term from that district. “There are only four voting precincts and in Plan 1b, two of those precincts are moved to District 2.”

“We understand all that, but that is part of redistricting,” said Dennis Taylor who, along with former supervisor John Ferguson and Bobbie Bingham Morrow spoke as citizens favoring a modified plan.

Overall, about 12 attended the hearing on how to slice Warren County into five districts based on data from the 2000 Census. Once supervisors vote to accept a plan, it will be forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department, which may take comments before accepting or rejecting a map.

Taylor said the group could not accept the most recent proposal drawn by county supervisors, dubbed Plan 5.

“At this point, we will stick with the plan that is up there now,” Taylor said.

Supervisors hired Central Mississippi Planning and Development District in May to prepare alternatives. Elected from five-district plans are supervisors, school board members and election commissioners. The county will also need a map dividing it into three parts for the election of justice court judges and constables. All other county officials are elected in countywide voting and the next election is next year.

One concern expressed by supervisors and others is how voters will react to new voting precincts or new polling places. Some fear that voters will not turn out to cast a ballot if their polling place has been moved.

Other problems could also be finding new buildings that meet Justice Department guidelines to be used for polling places if precincts are split. In the last countywide election in 2000, which included presidential and congressional races, about 18,371 ballots were cast, or about 59 percent of the 31,370 registered voters.

“I just want to make sure we don’t split anymore voting precincts than we have to,” said state Rep. Chester Masterson, R-Vicksburg.

“I think the concerned citizens plan is a good plan, but I think the worst thing that could happed is if there is a split among this board,” said District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon.

District 2 Supervisor Michael Mayfield also expressed his approval of the plan submitted by the group. Other supervisors stayed mum.

“I feel that these public hearings are for us to get input from the public and not to express our personal opinions,” said District 4 Supervisor Bill Lauderdale.

All of the plans for county redistricting are on display in the courthouse.