By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – The chairs of the House and Senate Election committees seem confident that legislative elections will go on as scheduled this year under the current districts, despite efforts of the NAACP to force voting under newly drawn districts.
The state chapter of the NAACP has filed notice that it is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a three-judge federal panel’s May ruling that legislators should run under old districts.
During the 2011 session, the Legislature was unable to agree on a plan to redraw districts to adhere to population shifts found by the 2010 Census, prompting the NAACP to file the lawsuit. The NAACP has contended that running under the old districts would violate the Constitution because there are significant variations in district populations, making them malapportioned.
“In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this will change anything,” Senate Elections Chair Terry Burton, R-Newton, said Thursday.
House Apportionment and Elections Chair Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, agreed.
“You never want to predict what will happen in court,” Reynolds said, “but I believe we will be able to run in our old districts and be able to run for a four-year term. I think that is a pretty good bet.”
Both Reynolds and Burton advocated to the three-judge panel that the redistricting plans approved by each chamber for itself during the 2011 session but that never got final joint approval be OK’d for this year’s elections. But both said Thursday at this point they are satisfied with running under the old districts.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees state elections, said he would schedule elections under the old districts unless ordered to do otherwise by the Supreme Court. He indicated he thinks intervention by the Supreme Court would be unlikely.
But the NAACP can cite some large discrepancies in the size of districts.
For instance, in the House, District 6 in DeSoto County has 46,182 people or is 89.9 percent above the ideal size of 24,322 determined by the Census while District 115 on the Gulf Coast has 13,505 people or is 44.5 percent below the ideal size.
In the Senate, District 19 in DeSoto County has 82,994 people, or is 25.9 percent above the ideal size of 57,063, while District 12 in the Delta has 43,572 people, or is 22.6 percent below the ideal size.