Today, the Legal Defense Fund, Gulfport Branch of the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, and One Voice sent a letter to the Harrison County, Mississippi School Board regarding its plans for the post-2020 redistricting cycle. The letter reminds the School Board of its affirmative obligations to comply with the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s one person, one vote principle and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and urges the Board to create meaningful opportunities to ensure that all residents’ voices are heard and meaningfully included at all stages of the redistricting process. Recent actions by the School Board suggest that it is not committed to ensuring a transparent process to allow members of the community to meaningfully participate in decision-making about redistricting. The School Board held an executive session on June 16, 2022, concerning redistricting, and it posted proposed maps without critical demographic information on Friday, June 24, providing just one day before it intends to adopt the maps.
The letter outlines recommendations for involving community members and ensuring transparency in the redistricting process. Before adopting a new map, the School Board must share the shapefiles and/or block equivalency files of any proposed maps it is considering on its website, and it must do so with adequate time to allow members of the public to assess and review the proposed maps. The School Board should also hold several public hearings to hear from members of the public with regard to proposed maps. Given the number of Spanish-speaking voters, LDF and partner organizations strongly urged the School Board to make notices, information about public hearings, and other information about the redistricting process available in Spanish, and to make interpreters available during the public hearings.
Read the full letter here.
LDF and coalition partners have been deeply involved in the redistricting process in Mississippi and other key states to prevent discriminatory redistricting plans and ensure legislatures comply with their obligations under the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about LDF’s redistricting work in Mississippi and other states here.
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.