GUIZERIX: Warren County wise in efforts to reduce voter confusion
Published 4:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022
It’s a redistricting year, and with that often comes changes on which we won’t all agree.
Such is the case with Warren County’s precinct lines. While many issues were resolved during and after last week’s working meeting of the Board of Supervisors, it seemed as though Monday’s regular meeting was the chosen venue to air grievances about District 3’s precinct lines and polling places.
As stated on July 25 and reported by The Post, the Warren County Election Commission is operating on three goals: Making sure city residents vote in a polling place in city limits; using polling places that are convenient, not too far to travel and are in safe neighborhoods; and using fewer polling places so as to save taxpayer dollars and reduce stress in finding poll managers.
Sara Dionne, head of the election commission, has also been working with the city of Vicksburg on its redistricting plan in order to make recommendations to consolidate precincts as much as possible. While the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have not yet approved precincts, once the county’s polling places are officially approved the city can work to align its own precincts and polling places with the county.
Achieving these goals will mean voters in the city limits will go to one polling place for all elections inasmuch as is possible — thereby lessening voter confusion.
The five election commissioners have completed their tasks to the best of their abilities, giving educated recommendations to their respective supervisors — of that, I am confident, and Warren County voters should be, too.
However, as with any change in life, you can’t please everybody.
Such is the case with Warren County District 3.
With much of the city of Vicksburg within its borders, District 3 saw several changes in redistricting. A portion of District 5’s population was absorbed into District 3, as was the former Parkside Playhouse precinct off of Indiana Avenue, whose voters will now join District 3 voters in the Travelers Rest precinct.
A casualty of the redistricting process appears to be Seren event venue. Because a portion of precinct lines in District 3 were drawn to closely mirror the city’s North and South Ward lines, Seren falls into the geographic area of the American Legion Precinct.
This change was reported by The Post on July 28 and again on Monday.
It is illegal to have two polling places within one precinct, according to Mississippi Election Code Article 9. The exception, however, is if there is no suitable polling place within a precinct’s geographic area. A real-life example is the Oakland precinct in Warren County, which by necessity has voters cross into another district.
An example where this concept cannot be legally applied is keeping both American Legion and Seren as polling places in District 3.
It does not make sense to have two polling places within spitting distance from each other. It does not make sense to force voters formerly in District 5 to travel well within city limits to vote when there are more suitable locations (such as Plumbers and Pipefitters).
It also does not make sense to use a public forum to bicker amongst one another. No government solution is a one-size-fits-all scenario, but lashing out doesn’t solve much, if anything.
Our elected and appointed officials are in a position of checks and balances, meaning they work most often together and occasionally against one another for the common good. Hopefully, by the Board of Supervisors’ Aug. 15 meeting, we can put the bickering to bed and focus on what matters: the best interests of the people.