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Miss. Senator Disagrees with Federal Court Order to Redraw D

Miss. Senator Disagrees with Federal Court Order to Redraw District
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Mississippi State Capitol
Desare Frazier

A Mississippi senator disagrees with a federal court ruling to redraw his district. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the design dilutes the black vote.

Beth Orlansky is with the Mississippi Center for Justice. She says they helped residents sue the state after discovering the design of District 22 dilutes the votes of black residents. Orlansky says the district begins in Cleveland in Bolivar County and goes through six counties ending in the City of Madison.

"What started clearly as a Delta district just threw in the metropolitan area of Madison to add more white voters to help reelect Buck Clarke who is from Hollandale," said Orlansky.

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A federal judge ruled the state must redraw the district. The state appealed that decision. Friday the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Mississippi lawmakers to redraw the district by April. The Voting Rights Act requires that districts be representative of the population. Fifty-one percent of voting age residents are black and the district has a white senator. Senator Clarke who isn't running for reelection is upset by the timing of the order.

"Next year there's going to be a census. All the districts are going to be redrawn year after next by the legislature. It's just so odd that they would wait right before you're doing to do it anyway," said Clarke.

Democratic Senator David Blount of Jackson wants legislators to comply with the order.

"The court has made a ruling so I think we oughta address it. End the court case and address the changes that oughta be made," said Blount.

Clarke says President Barack Obama and Mike Espy who ran for U.S. Senate both won his district which proves a black can be elected. He says his colleagues are working on a plan to redraw the district.