Mississippians for Fair Redistricting call on Legislators to follow 5 Guiding Principles for Redistricting Process

(Jackson, Miss.)—Today, a newly-formed organization, Mississippians for Fair Redistricting, called on Mississippi legislators to follow five guiding principles as the Legislature undertakes the job of drawing new legislative and congressional district lines.

At a news conference at the State Capitol, the group’s Chairman, Jim Herring, was joined by other board members including Jeanne Luckey and Joe Nosef. The focus of the news conference was to engage legislators, and the public as a whole, to support five principles for redistricting that were announced, which are:

• As few split precincts as possible with zero split precincts being the goal.
• Geographically compact districts.
• Keeping communities of interest intact and recognizing population shifts.
• Adhering to the Voting Rights Act; One person, One vote.
• Respecting historical boundaries.

“While redistricting may not be a household word, it is an issue that affects every household in the state,” said Jim Herring. “That’s why we are asking the public to follow this process, learn more about how it impacts all of us as citizens, and to encourage your legislators to follow common sense principles in throughout the process.”

“Throughout the redistricting process, you will hear a lot of talk about politics,” Herring continued. “But redistricting should not be about politics, it should be about fair, objective principles. It should be about voters choosing their representatives, not politicians choosing their voters.”

“The issue of split precincts must be at the forefront of the process,” Herring stated. “Mississippi has too many split precincts where some voters may live across the street from each other but end up falling into different legislative districts. Split precincts cause confusion for voters as well as make it harder for poll workers and election officials to administer elections.”

“Geographically compact districts are also important to make sure we have logical districts that do not meander in and out of communities for miles” said Herring. “Mississippi Code Section 5-3-101 requires districts to be compact and “to cross governmental or political boundaries the least number of times possible.” Despite this clear law, there are several current examples of how existing districts carve up geographic areas without good reason. I hope the Legislature will pay close attention to this law throughout the redistricting process.”

“Clearly, we must adhere to the Voting Rights Act of one person, one vote,” Herring stated. “Districts should be uniform. It is not only the law, it is the right thing to do.”

“We must also recognize population shifts and make sure that these areas have proper representation within their logical geographic regions,” said Herring. “Respecting historical boundaries is also a guiding principle because Mississippians have a strong sense of place. Our historical boundaries mean something to us and they ought to be reflected in how our political districts are drawn, too. This is also the law under Section 5-3-101.”

“It is our hope that these common sense principles outlined today will not be lost in a political power struggle, but will be used and viewed by both political parties as the best way to move forward in the redistricting process,” Herring concluded.

To learn more about Mississippians for Fair Redistricting and the redistricting process, visit www.Redistricting.ms

MFR Press Release
2/3/11