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Lawsuit: Mississippi legislative district dilutes black vote

A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

Posted: Jul 10, 2018 9:55 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The suit asks a judge to order legislators to reconfigure the district before the 2019 state elections.

District 22 has a 51 percent black voting-age population, and the suit says it lacks "real electoral opportunity" for African-Americans.

"The lack of opportunity is the result of white bloc voting and lower African-American turnout that are vestiges of the historical discrimination and extreme socio-economic disparities that have been inflicted upon African-Americans over a long period of time," the lawsuit says.

The district has been represented since January 2004 by Republican Sen. Eugene "Buck" Clarke of Hollandale, who is white and is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

The district is more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) long, stretching through parts of six counties — Bolivar, Humphreys, Sharkey, Washington, Yazoo and Madison. It goes from the impoverished Delta flatlands down into the affluent Jackson suburbs.

Clarke said Monday that he had not read the lawsuit, but all of Mississippi's legislative districts were approved in 2012 by the Justice Department under then-President Barack Obama.

"Here's the problem: The Delta's losing population," Clarke told The Associated Press on Monday.

He said changing one legislative district would affect others around it.

"You can't just move one little line somewhere," said Clarke, who has not decided whether he will seek re-election in 2019.

The lawsuit says District 22 could be redrawn to have about a 60 percent black voting age population, and "one or two adjacent districts" would have to be changed.

Mississippi's population is nearly 38 percent black. The lawsuit says the state's voting age population is at least 35 percent black, while African-Americans hold 25 percent of seats in the state Senate — 13 seats of 52.

The lawsuit says no African-American candidate has been elected to the Mississippi Senate in a district with a 51 percent black voting age population. One current African-American senator is from a district with a 55 percent black population, while all others are from districts that are at least 61 percent black, the suit says.

One plaintiff is Joseph Thomas of Yazoo City, who served in the state Senate from 2004 to 2008 in a district adjoining Clarke's. More of Yazoo County was added to Clarke's district after the 2010 Census, and Thomas ran against Clarke in 2015. Clarke won with nearly 54 percent of the vote.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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