Mississippi Senate set to vote on revamped US House map

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Senate on Wednesday is expected to approve a plan to redraw the state’s four congressional districts.

The plan passed the House last week mostly along party lines, with Republicans and one independent in favor and Democrats and one independent opposed. Republicans also control the Senate, and it’s unlikely that Democrats will be able to block approval.

Even if the proposed plan is approved, the NAACP or other opponents could ask a federal court to consider whether the new districts dilute the influence of Black voters.

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Political boundaries have to be updated every decade to reflect changes in population, with a goal of having an equal number of residents in each district.

The plan expands the territory of Mississippi’s only majority-Black U.S. House district because the 2020 Census showed the district — the 2nd — lost population during the previous decade.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson has held the 2nd District seat since wining a 1993 special election. The district stretches through the Delta and into the city of Jackson.

Thompson said he wanted to expand the district but still keep it relatively compact by taking in more of the densely populated Jackson metro area. That proposal is also favored by the state NAACP. Instead, the plan moves four sparsely populated southwestern counties into the 2nd District from the 3rd District.

White Republicans represent the 1st District in the north, the 3rd District in the central part of the state and the 4th District in the south.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he likes the proposed new congressional districts. Candidates face a March 1 qualifying deadline to run for the four seats.