Census timing off for ‘12 vote
The timing of the release of data from the 2010 census is “causing problems throughout the state,” according to consultant Chris Watson of Bridge and Watson, Inc. Watson, whose firm has been hired by Tunica County to assist in the redistricting process, conducted a well-attended early hearing in the process last Thursday at the courthouse.
Watson said census data won’t be available until February at the earliest, shortening the timeline to use the data to reconfigure voting districts for the 2011 elections countywide and statewide.
“The qualifying deadline is March 1,” Watson said, “and the process takes several months.” The county’s final plan must also get approval from the U.S Department of Justice before it can be implemented, Watson reminded the crowd. Getting the okay back from the Justice Dept. can take 60 days or more, he said.
These factors persuaded the county board to use the current districts for the 2011 vote. The new districts will be in place for the 2015 state and county elections. Federal elections in 2012 will use new districts, county board attorney Andy Dulaney said in response to a question from the public. And the new districts will apply to school board elections prior to 2015.