Public gets its chance to redraw districts

By BOBBY HARRISON / Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – The state computer system will be available for people wanting to draw their own plan to redistrict the 174-member Mississippi Legislature or four U.S. House seats.
The state system will be available from Nov. 1 through Nov. 19.
Ted Booth, a staff member with the Legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee, said during a series of statewide hearings on redistricting, “I heard so many people say, ‘Don’t split my county or don’t spit my town four ways.’ This allows people to draw a plan and say, ‘This is the way you should do it without splitting my town or my county.'”
The Joint Redistricting Committee held meetings throughout the state in August and September to get public input. Now citizens can offer more input by drawing districts the way they think they should be.
During November, people working on the state computer will be using preliminary census data. A similar process for public input will be allowed after the state receives the official U.S. census data in February.
But Booth said the Legislature will be on a tight time frame then to redraw legislative districts during the 2011 session in time for the elections later in the year. But Booth said the state will allow time for public input after the official data is received.
While the Legislature is expected to try to act quickly during the 2011 session to draw the legislative districts, it will most likely will wait until later in the year.
The redistricting must occur every 10 years to reflect population shifts found during the census.
People wishing to make an appointment to use the computer system can phone Ted Booth at (601) 359-1226 during regular business hours.