County redistricting plans head to Justice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2002

[06/26/02]Redistricting plans for Warren County will soon be headed to the U.S. Justice Department following adoption Tuesday of the last component of the remapping process.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors in February adopted a plan to divide the county into five districts to elect one supervisor, one school board member and one election commissioner from each.

Tuesday, a second map, dividing the county into three districts was approved. That map will be used to elect north, central and south justice court judges and constables.

The five-district plan was adopted on a 3-2 vote with the representatives of Warren County’s two black-majority districts voting against it.

Tuesday, the plan to create three districts was adopted without dissent.

The vote followed a June 17 public hearing at which no one appeared.

Under voting rights laws dating to the 1960s, any election-related matter cannot be decided in Mississippi or any of 16 other states with a history of racial discrimination, without a federal review.

Both plans, drawn by consultants hired by supervisors, balance district-to-district population.

Both also maintain or increase racial breakdowns. Districts 2 and 3 and the central district in the three-district plan continue to have black majorities. Too, the central district, similar to District 3 which is entirely within the city limits of Vicksburg, is mostly in the city. The north and south districts divide the county in equal areas with a dividing line centered on Interstate 20.

The Justice Department has 90 days to approve or reject the plans, when submitted, but can seek a 90-day extension.

If approved in time, Warren County voters will use the five new districts in voting for members of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees from District 3 and 4 this fall. Otherwise, existing districts will be used.

The first countywide use of the plans would be next summer and fall when elections for all county offices are held.

Governments at all levels are required to rebalance voting districts after every 10-year census. Mississippi’s plan to apportion state House and Senate seats has been approved. The Legislature was unable to agree on a plan for U.S. House seats, and one was ordered by a U.S. District Court. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review that matter.

Warren County’s plans do not make any radical changes, mostly tweaking lines for population purposes. Also, no officials now in district offices are “paired” with any others, meaning no person now in a county post will face a re-election challenge from another incumbent.