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NAACP seeks halt to city elections

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
FEB. 6, 2001
Citing a possible violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, local NAACP officials have asked the U.S. Justice Department to block city elections until census results are made available.
The NAACP request comes just weeks after Meridian and eight other cities across the state received legislative approval to hold municipal elections on time using existing ward boundaries. With Census 2000 results not expected to be known until at least April, the cities wouldn't have enough time to properly redraw the lines in time for scheduled elections in June. The legislative action calls for a delay in redrawing ward lines in time for the 2005 municipal elections.
The Legislature's action would take effect pending the approval of the Justice Department.
Clark, however, feels the four-year delay for redistricting is unneccesary and perhaps illegal.
The local request for Justice Department intervention comes as no surprise to Ward 3 Councilwoman Barbara Henson, who said she had been expecting the action by local NAACP leaders.
Although Henson, endorsed the bill as part of the Mississippi Municipal League's agenda, she says she understands the NAACP's action.
Henson, who served on the city's redistricting committee in 1990, said once census results are known it could be several more months before new ward line are drawn.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.