NAACP Objects to Post-Annexation Ward Lines

The Meridian-Lauderdale County NAACP has filed a protest with the U.S Department of Justice of Meridian's voting wards for the 2009 municipal elections.

Chapter president, the Rev. Milton Johnson, says one of the organization's concerns is with the recently annexed area in north Meridian.

"We felt that there was an underscoring reason for the annexation," said Johnson. "Knowing that the annexation would put 1800 voters, registered Republican voters, on the rolls. We want redistricting lines to be looked at again."

Johnson says the NAACP's concern is that the addition of the new voters was at least partially designed to swing the vote.

"It's now time for the resources that are sent to Lauderdale County to be dispersed among all of the communities of Lauderdale County, not just favored areas," Johnson said.

Meridian's chief administrative officer, Ken Storms, said the NAACP's letter to federal officials is riddled with errors and the city can prove it.

Storms said the black and white voting age populations in the city changed only between 1 and 2 percent with the annexation.

"We followed the law, because the law says that if your next primary election is less than six months away from the execution date or the implementation date of your annexation, then you must do it this way. And that is fold it into the next one (ward)," said Storms. "After that election, then you do the redistricting and that's what we've got in mind."

Storms said Ward 1 currently has more voters than other ward, but that will be corrected when all ward lines ore redrawn, based on results of the 2010 Census.

Although the upcoming election will continue as scheduled, Johnson says officials from the Justice Department have agreed to monitor the proceedings.

The NAACP is planning a series of political forums for candidates. The first will be held at the EMEPA auditorium Apr. 23 at 7 p.m. Organizers say all candidates for office in the city of Meridian are being invited and citizens may ask questions.

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