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Gov. , Sec. of State, Seek to Block Redrawing District After

Gov. , Sec. of State, Seek to Block Redrawing District After Work Done
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Mississippi Senate Chamber
Desare Frazier

Two Mississippi Republican officials seek to block a court-ordered ruling to redraw a Senate District even though the work's been done. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Senate District 22 begins in Bolivar County in the Delta and continues through six counties ending in the City of Madison in Central Mississippi. Lawmakers redrew the district during the legislative session, after a three member panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's ruling the district diluted the black vote. Now private attorneys for Republicans Governor Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann are requesting the full 5th Circuit Court hear the case. Beth Orlansky is with Mississippi Center for Justice which helped residents sue the state.

"Mississippi is 37 percent African American and the percentage of senators who are African American is closer to 12 or 13 percent I believe. So, it's important to draw the lines in such a way that people are actually represented and not diluted," said Orlansky.

Orlansky says she's not surprised a motion was filed to block the ruling. The redesign includes changes to Districts 22 and 13. Democratic Senator Willie Simmons who isn't running for reelection, represents District 13. He says the plan increases the black voting age population referred to as the BVAP in District 22.

"I thought the senate did a good job making it a little bit more compact by removing Bolivar County from 22 and putting it in 13 and it did increase the BVAP from 50.8 percent to 58 percent which is a district that is winnable with a black candidate," said Simmons.

Simmons says he was surprised by the filing even though he knew it was possible. Spokespersons for both Bryant and Hosemann say they can't discuss pending litigation.