Public hearing set for city redistricting
May 20—Meridian residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on new boundaries for the city's five wards as the Meridian City Council on Tuesday voted to set a public hearing for its redistricting plan.
Cities, counties and states are required to redraw the boundary lines for their districts and wards after each census — every 10 years — to account for changes in population and demographics. Lauderdale County completed its redistricting process for county supervisor, justice court judge and constable districts last fall and is waiting on input from the city before finalizing voting precincts.
The public hearing will be held June 20 at 5:15 p.m. in the auditorium on the third floor of city hall.
Jenifer Buford, with East Central Planning and Development District, told the council in a May 9 work session that the process was nearing an end. After the public hearing, she said, the council will be able to vote on the redrawn wards and complete the redistricting process.
Burford, along with city and county election officials, are also working to redraw precinct boundaries. As county districts and city wards change, voting precincts are also adjusted. The goal, she said, is to use as many of the same precincts as possible across city, county, state and federal elections. Otherwise, voters would have to go to a different place to vote depending on the election cycle.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Ty Bell Lindsey is the only member of the council to voice objection to precinct changes thus far. Lindsey said she does not support a proposed measure to roll precincts at Fire Station One and Meridian Housing Authority into a third precinct at the Lauderdale County Courthouse.
Combining the three precincts was recommended due to the low voter turnout at MHA and the fire station. Changing the plan would require a majority vote from the council, and it is unclear if Lindsey will have the support needed to alter the plan.
Once the city approves its redistricting boundaries, the new lines and precinct locations will be sent to the county. Election Commissioners and the Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk are tasked with mailing out new voter registration cards with updated precinct information to all registered voters.
Election officials will need to move quickly to ensure voters know where they should go to vote in the primary elections on August 8.
Members of the public wanting to weigh in on the redistricting plan will need to put their name down on the sign-in sheet placed outside the auditorium prior to the start of the meeting.
Contact Thomas Howard on Twitter @tmhoward