JACKSON, Mississippi — A U.S. Supreme Court decision that gives counties in the South the power to draw their own election boundaries without federal oversight has raised fears that local Mississippi officials will deliberately keep lines that make it harder to elect minority candidates.
The NAACP has taken its fight to court to get the lines redrawn but recently lost the latest round of the battle.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 16 upheld the dismissal of lawsuits filed by the Mississippi NAACP and others that challenged the results of county elections in 2011, contending the local election boundaries are outdated and don’t reflect population shifts. The group said that using the old maps violated the one-person, one-vote principle by diluting African-American voting strength.
Legislative maps have to be updated once a decade to account for population changes, giving more seats to heavily populated areas and taking seats away from areas that have lost residents. Counties must realign supervisors’ districts.
The Legislature took care of itself in time for the 2011 election by redrawing House and Senate voting districts. To accomplish that, lawmakers had to push back the deadline for candidates to qualify for elections. The deadline was changed from March 1 to June 1, 2011.