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Supervisors hope to settle county redistricting issue soon

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 27, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors are moving along with plans to redraw district lines and hope to vote on a proposal by March or April of 2002.
Most of the work session, held with East Central Planning and Development District officials who were hired to help with redistricting, focused on balancing Districts 2 and 4, both of which are minority districts.
Jenifer Buford with the ECPDD said the U.S. Justice Department mandates black or minority districts be protected because in those districts voters have created a history of electing black or minority leaders.
According to 2000 Census figures, District 2 is 62 percent black while District 4 is 75 percent black, so District 4 needs to give up some black voters to District 2 to equalize the population and yet keep the black voting strength in each district.
Supervisors are examining the Red Line neighborhood area for possibilities. Smith said one such option would give District 2 an area from 22nd Street North down to 13th Street South and from 28th Avenue West to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive or 31st Avenue.
With more than 180 non-voting inmates living at the Lauderdale County Detention Facility, balancing numbers for District 2 is a little tricky, Buford said.
Moving voters in the Red Line area would keep District 2 at a 62 percent black population and drop District 4 to 67 percent, preserving the black voting strength in both districts.
If supervisors vote for a plan encompassing that possibility, Precinct 11's polling place at Meridian's Central Fire Station, which is now in District 4, would become a polling place for a new precinct in District 2. Supervisors and election commissioners discussed the possibility of having New Hope Missionary Baptist Church or Wechsler school designated as Precinct 11's polling place if the precinct lost the Central Fire Station.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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