By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved redrawn Tupelo ward lines.
The city’s next step will be updating voters on how the changes may affect them.
The new lines reflect shifts in Tupelo’s population based on the 2010 Census and the results of the 16-square-mile annexation finalized in September.
The redistricting plan was designed to divide the city’s population evenly between the seven wards, retain minority majorities in Wards 4 and 7 and avoid moving sitting council members out of their ward. There were some shifts in ward boundary lines, but for the most part, each ward retains the core of its constituency.
“I’m very satisfied,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis.
The ward and precinct lines will go to the U.S. Department of Justice for review under the federal Voting Rights Act. Because elections are less than six months away, city officials can’t wait for the Justice Department’s review to begin preparations.
City Clerk Kim Hanna anticipates letters will go out to annexed residents with information on address changes soon. One last road name change is anticipated for the upcoming council meeting Jan. 8. Officials have proposed changing the name of County Road 1740 in an annexed area in west Tupelo to Red Barn Road.
Registered voters living in the annexed areas will not have to register again.
“If they’re registered to vote in Lee County, they are registered to vote in Tupelo, if they were annexed,” Hanna said.
New voting registration cards for all Tupelo voters with updated wards and polling places will follow the address updates early next year from the Lee County Circuit Clerk’s office, which maintains the voting rolls. The city clerk’s office is in the process of finalizing the polling places; each ward has two precincts except for the compact Ward 2.
The deadline to register to vote in the May 7 primary is April 6, and May 4 for the June 4 general election. The deadline to qualify to run for city elected offices is March 8.