Thursday, March 22, 2012

Redistricting past and future; a look at where we've been and where we may be headed (maps included)

Most followers of this blog will recall last year's epic redistricting battle.  There were two plans unveiled in the Senate, one by the Senate Reapportionment Committee and one by surrogates of then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R).  In the House, the House Reapportionment Committee passed a map which was passed by the full House, and now-Speaker Philip Gunn (R - Clinton) failed to pass a "One Percent Plan", developed by the Mississippi Republican Party.  The Senate Reapportionment Committee plan passed the Senate and House, but the Senate refused to pass the House Reapportionment Committee plan, and the whole thing wound up in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi before a three-judge panel.  The panel punted on the issue, following the reasoning pushed by Robert Gibbs and Matt Allen, attorneys for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R).

Well, word is beginning to spread at the Capitol that the 2012 redistricting battle may be about to begin....

That means this year's Legislature will take up the task of drawing the new lines.  Several questions remain:

  1. How many maps will be offered in each chamber?  Will we see a split in the Senate like we did last year? And will there be an effort to offer multiple maps in the House?
  2. Will the plan offered by House Republicans look like the One Percent Plan Speaker Gunn promoted last year?
  3. Will the Senate Reapportionment Committee plan look like the one it passed last year?  Considering that Elections Committee Chairman Sen. Chris McDaniel (R - Ellisville) was involved in the effort to promote the Bryant plan last time around, my guess is no.
  4. Most importantly, will there be legislative elections under new maps in November?  The federal court left that matter unresolved, and therefore a realistic possibility.
I have three expectations.  First, we'll see several maps offered in each chamber.  Second, that Republicans will attempt to further divide the parties along racial lines by drawing out white Democrats.  Third, the whole process will be wild, but not as wild as last year.  (Entire books could be written on what went down in the Great Redistricting Battle of 2011.)

For reference sake, here are the maps from last year:

Mississippi Senate:

Mississippi House:

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