Justice Department upholds Mississippi’s new state House, Senate districts

September 14, 2012

Legal Affairs, Politics

 

The U.S. Justice Department has approved Mississippi’s redistricting plans for the state House and Senate.

Legislative leaders received word of the approval Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The 122 House districts and 52 Senate districts had to be redrawn to reflect population shifts revealed by the 2010 Census.

Lawmakers approved new plans in the spring. Any election changes in Mississippi must be approved by the Justice Department because of the state’s history of racial discrimination.

The 122 House districts and 52 Senate districts had to be updated after each Census to account for population changes. Between 2000 and 2010, DeSoto County, just south of Memphis, and it’s getting new legislative districts, had significant population growth. To account for the population growth, lawmakers moved District 28 into DeSoto County. The move cost the Delta an important seat, opponents said.

Many Democrats complained that the plan pushed through by the new Republican majority diluted black voting strength by “packing” black voters in fewer districts. House Elections Committee chairman Bill Denny, R-Jackson, and other Republican leaders denied that claim.

The Justice Department did not agree the redistricting diminished minority voting strength in a discriminatory way. Because of Mississippi’s history of racial discrimination, the redistricting plans needed approval of the Justice Department, which checks to ensure the plans don’t dilute minority voting strength.

 

 

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