Bovina precinct to move

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another voting precinct in Warren County is headed for a move — the fourth switch of a polling place this year and the most recent delay in sending a final redistricting plan to the federal government.

Supervisors voted to give tentative approval to plans to move the Bovina precinct to Bovina Baptist Church, south of Interstate 20 on U.S. 80, from Bovina Elementary School, north of the interstate on Willow Creek Drive.

The school district has expressed concerns over the volume of traffic on voting day, board attorney Randy Sherard said.

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Supervisors passed the resolution without final approval from church officials. The school reopened in 2008 after being closed for nine years but had housed the precinct in the interim.

Jett precinct in south Vicksburg has moved twice since June — to No. 5 Fire Station at Vicksburg Municipal Airport after Carpenters Union Hall was no longer available, then to Immanuel Baptist Church after poll workers fought 100-degree temperatures during the Aug. 2 primary. Heat also was cited when supervisors agreed to move No. 7 Fire Station precinct to Travelers Rest Baptist Church for the Nov. 8 general election.

The prospect of having four new polling places this fall adds to a redistricting process slowed from its outset by legal entanglements.

On June 6, the board OK’d new political boundary lines for the five supervisor districts and the three justice court districts. Each expanded district is mostly inside Vicksburg city limits that lost population in the 2010 census.

Suits brought against Warren and nine other counties by various local NAACP chapters that sought to delay qualifying “slowed things down” and made the process less urgent — idling nighttime and weekend work on new maps for six counties ensnared in the suit, said Chuck Carr, a GIS manager with the Jackson-based regional planning firm. The suit was dismissed from federal district court but is active in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legal descriptions of each new map from Central Mississippi Planning and Development District were delivered to Warren County in late August, Carr said.

Still, Warren County’s new maps won’t be sent to the Department of Justice until the Bovina change is official, Sherard said.

“We aren’t lollygagging, but we certainly aren’t under any gun,” he said.

Proposed supervisor districts show District 2 expanding north to Culkin Road and south along Mississippi 27 to Stenson Road, except for a strip of U.S. 80 between the city limits and Buck Drive. District 3 gains in three spots, along U.S. 61 South beyond city limits to Grange Hall Road, a piece south of East Clay Street between Old Highway 27 and Mississippi 27 and a piece east of Halls Ferry Road anchored by Lake Hill Drive.

For justice court, the board’s choice expands the central district to gain areas between Culkin Road and Interstate 20, Old 27 and Mississippi 27 and northwest to pick up Chickasaw, Kings and Ford subdivisions from the northern district.

A decision by DOJ — mandated for counties statewide in accordance with federal voting rights law — is expected within 60 days once it’s received. New census data shows Vicksburg lost 9.7 percent of its population since 2000, which affected Districts 2 and 3 most acutely.

If approved, the new district lines would be used for the 2015 election cycle.

Maps for Simpson County also are in the legal work phase, while Copiah County has yet to adopt a plan, Carr said. By contrast, Madison County held elections this year under new maps approved by DOJ this year. Both contracted with CMPDD after population shifts prompted redistricting.