NAACP Seeks to Delay District 82 Special Election

An upcoming special election has created quite a controversy. Randle Jennings, vice-president of the Meridian/Lauderdale County Chapter of the NAACP, seemed frustrated Tuesday after calling on the Meridian City Council to take action to delay the election to fill the House District 82 seat, left vacant by the death of Meridian Rep. Charles Young Apr. 29. Young had held the office for almost 30 years.

Gov. Haley Barbour set the special election for June 9, with a candidate qualifying deadline of May 10. NAACP officials say that's too soon.

"We feel that it is not only an injustice, but a travesty to have this election so soon. Being that we will not be able to search within our own ranks to find someone who is capable of taking on that large responsibility," said the Rev. Milton Johnson, president of the Meridian-Lauderdale County NAACP.

Johnson said he and Jennings went to the city council, asking them call for an injunction to halt the election.

"Because first of all, there are going to be affidavits for absentee ballots. Secondly, give the Young family time enough to consider who they might want to replace their father," Jennings said.

However, council president Mary Perry said there is nothing that the council can do.

"We can't. It is state law that it is the governor's option to do what he did," Perry said. "We don't like it that he has chosen to do it as early as he has, but we don't have a voice in state law."

"Rules and laws have been postponed. Orders have been rescinded before. Injunctions have been filed before, but of course it's who benefits most from this," said Johnson.

According to Johnson, one of his concerns is that the June 9 election could give the Republican Party an unfair advantage.

Although the city council did not take any action on the matter, Johnson says the NAACP is not giving up and instead is now preparing to contact lawmakers in Congress and the legislature to help them petition the governor to delay the special election.

As it stands, the qualifying deadline to enter the race for the House District 82 seat is Sunday, May 10.

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