Census won’t require redrawing, supervisors say

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Despite a population loss in the city of Vicksburg in the 2010 Census, Warren County supervisors are confident none of the lines that determine their districts’ boundaries needs to be redrawn for this year’s elections.

This year’s count had the city’s population at 23,856, or 9.7 percent fewer people than in the 2000 count. Countywide, the total was down 1.75 percent in the past 10 years, to 48,773.

Early sets of data released Thursday and Friday by the Census Bureau had District 1 in northeast Warren County at 12,431 people — a gain of more than 2,600 people contrasted with counts from 2000, which forced the district to give swaths of areas around U.S. 61 North to District 2 to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The opposite was apparent in Districts 2 and 3, where a combined 4,790 people were lost compared to 10 years ago.

Mapping specialists with Central Mississippi Planning and Development District told supervisors late Friday that countywide and municipal population totals are correct but that individual units of population, called census blocks, are placed according to pre-2000 boundaries. In general, census blocks conform to city blocks, though they can have more natural boundaries in sparsely populated rural areas.

“We’re not questioning the numbers, but the assignments of the blocks,” said Chuck Carr, GIS manager for the quasi-public planning entity for Warren, Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Yazoo, Copiah and Simpson counties. Adjustments also are expected to leave the 2013 municipal election cycle unaffected.

Ideal guidelines stipulate a 10 percent top-to-bottom variance across county districts. The figures released last week show a difference of about 41 percent from District 2, the lowest, to District 1, which topped the five districts. Localities and states may file challenges to census results, though Carr terms Warren County’s totals more of “coding challenge” than anything else and expects to have enough adjustments to show the Census Bureau within 60 days.

CMPDD had relayed to supervisors leading up to last spring’s census mailing that no boundary changes were in the offing, based on preliminary mapping data. Provisions of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires nine states and some counties in seven others to have any changes in voting lines precleared by the Department of Justice to prevent the dilution of minority voting strength.

Redistricting took nearly two years to sort out following the 2000 count’s release, which resulted in District 1 losing about 11 square miles to District 2 to ensure nearly equal voter distribution.

District 2 covers north Vicksburg and stretches northwest to Eagle Lake; District 3, which is the only district completely in city limits, is the smallest of the five in land size; District 4 includes all parcels west of Fisher Ferry Road; and District 5 includes the southeast parcels from Fisher Ferry to Indiana Avenue and extends east to part of Warriors Trail.

Potential effects on the city will not be known until after numbers are studied by the city’s legal department later this year.