Parts of Jett, Tingleville precincts might be moved

Published 10:37 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

Elks LodgeTingleville

Residents along the Mississippi River in Vicksburg and in south Warren County might be voting in a different precinct come June, thanks to a redistricting plan first approved more than two years ago.
The question is how many will move and where they’ll vote.
Voters in the Jett precinct west of U.S. 61 South, between Kemp Bottom Road and the Mississippi River bridges, and in a sliver of territory east of 61 along Dana Road are being eyed for a shift to the Elks Lodge precinct, county officials said earlier this week. A second proposed change involves Greenbriar subdivision, which is bracketed by Gibson and Halls Ferry roads in the county. All voters there would be moved from the Tingleville precinct to the YMCA precinct.
On Monday, supervisors OK’d moving all 265 or so voters in those areas, based on a signed recommendation from three members of the Warren County Election Commission. The action was geared to meet a March 25 deadline for all 82 counties in the state to complete all pre-election redistricting issues before ballots are created for the statewide election management system, or SEMS. This year’s primary election for the federal-heavy ballot is June 3 and the general election is Nov. 4.
However, problems with the new map and procedural questions arose quickly and, by this morning, supervisors expected to meet again next Monday in a special session to rescind their vote.
“Apparently, we need a review,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said. “I don’t expect (the changes) to proceed the way they have it.”
Election commissioners will follow up supervisors’ session with one of their own, at 1 p.m. in their office space on the basement floor of the Warren County Courthouse.
Commission chairwoman Sara Carlson Dionne, of District 4, Jan Whatley, of District 1, and Lonnie Wooley, of District 5, met before supervisors convened at 9 a.m. this past Monday. However, a five-day notice wasn’t given beforehand, as per state law, making the meeting itself null and void. Signatures from commissioners Retha Summers and Elva Smith-Tolliver didn’t appear with the others. With the state-set deadline to update SEMS apparently missed before it even arrives, any change at this point won’t take effect until the 2015 state/county election cycle.
“The Election Commission will have to have a properly called meeting first,” County Administrator John Smith said.
Once they do, they’ll have an issue placing the piece near Dana Road in a map that touches some part of the Elks Lodge polling area. The map approved Monday by the commission and supervisors has it off by itself.
“They’re simply a change of precinct lines,” Dionne told supervisors Monday. “Because of the changes that were already made, we ended up with some skewed precincts.”
By Tuesday, Dionne had admitted the county needed to start over again on the map.
“We may have to reconsider it again,” Dionne said.
Once both boards are on the same page for new lines for the county’s 22 voting precincts, voter registration cards are expected to be mailed to all voters affected by the changes. Those will come from the circuit clerk’s office.
If the plan to move part of Jett holds up, it means bringing the polling place about six miles closer — the Elks Lodge is a few minutes away from the affected zone, whereas Immanuel Baptist Church, where Jett was moved in 2011, is in the county. If the current plan for Tingleville stays true, it would mean voting at Porters Chapel United Methodist Church, on Porters Chapel Road, instead of Church of God, on Gibson Road.
“The Porters Chapel site is a wonderful site; it’s convenient,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said Monday, referring to parking space there compared to Church of God. “We do need to notice people ahead of time.”
Board President Bill Lauderdale said redistricting every 10 years “comes around real quick” and the county might advertise the changes a few times between now and this year’s primary.
The lone race this year governed by new district lines is a special election for constable in the central district, prompted by the death of Randy Naylor last year. Redistricting after the 2010 census expanded the district to pick up areas between Culkin Road and Interstate 20, Old Highway 27 and Mississippi 27, as well as farther into Chickasaw, Kings and Ford subdivisions.
The rest of the ballot involves federal races, judicial spots and, in Warren County, two races on the school board.
In 2011, county supervisors OK’d expanding District 2 and District 3 to reflect population loss inside the city. Starting with the 2015 state/county election cycle, District 2, represented by William Banks, will expand north to Culkin Road and south along Mississippi 27 to Stenson Road. A strip of U.S. 80 between the city limits and Bucks Drive will stay in District 1.
District 3, represented by Charles Selmon, gains in three spots for 2015 — along U.S. 61 South beyond the city limits to Grange Hall Road, south of East Clay Street between Old Highway 27 and Mississippi 27 and east of Halls Ferry Road in and around Lake Hill Drive.