Ward redistricting is required after each census before the next city election, and in the case of Mississippi and 15 other states, a clause in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 can draw out that process. Meridian CFO and City Clerk Ed Skipper says the City Council voted on a proposal for new wards that were drawn up by consultants, and now they're waiting to hear back from the US Department of Justice.
"This time there were two proposals that were prepared to try to redistrict the city into as much as possible 5 equal districts in terms of population."
Section 5 of that Voting Rights Act is causing the City of Meridian to hit a snag in getting their new wards approved by the US Justice Department. When new districts are sent for approval, either they are approved, or the Justice Department asks for more information. In Meridian's case, they asked for more info, and that pushed the whole process back.
"Additional information has now been submitted to the Justice Department, and that resets their clock as far as the length of time they have to review it."
With the first city primary just a few months away and no official ward lines approved yet, many citizens thinking about running for City Council are confused about what they need to do to start their campaign to hopefully land a seat at City Hall.
"People can get information, which they've been doing. They've been making inquires, and the basic information as far as the process for filing paperwork and qualifying to run, that's available and can be given to folks."
Only time will tell when and if the Justice Department approves the proposed Wards, and if that will have an impact on the election dates.