Attorney Waverly Harkins takes a cell phone photograph of the expanded view of newly proposed congressional boundaries between Hinds and Madison counties following a meeting of the Joint Congressional Redistricting and Legislative Reapportionment Committees at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The public will have access through the month of January to the computers and resources of the Mississippi Legislature Joint Redistricting Committee to draw their own legislative districts.

People wishing to do so should call 601-359-1226 and ask for Ted Booth, executive director of the Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee, to schedule an appointment. The offices and computers will be available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Senate Pro Tem Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, who is vice chair of the Redistricting Committee, said, “We had several people to come and draw congressional districts. But thus far we have not had people wanting to draw legislative districts.”

Late last year, the Redistricting Committee provided public access for people to draw their own congressional maps. The Legislature is currently in the process of passing a plan to redraw the state’s four U.S. House districts. The Legislature is expected to take up the issue of redrawing the 52 state Senate and 122 state House seats later this session.

READ MORE: Groups allege Redistricting Committee violated public meetings law

The Legislature is charged with redrawing the U.S. congressional and state House districts every 10 years to adhere to population shifts gleaned from the decennial census. Federal and state law mandate redistricting based on the census data.

The guidelines of the Joint Legislative Redistricting Committee require public access for three weeks to allow the public to draw their own congressional districts and three weeks to draw their own state House and Senate districts. Members of the public can keep the maps they draw, and the maps also will be made available as part of the public record as the Legislature works to redraw the state’s U.S. House districts and legislative districts.

The Legislature is in the process of completing the task of redrawing the four congressional districts. The reason for swift action on congressional redistricting is because the deadline for candidates to qualify to run for the congressional seats is March 1. The primary election will be held in June. A congressional redistricting plan is expected to be sent to Gov. Tate Reeves later this week.

The 174 legislative districts will be taken up later in the session. Legislative elections are slated for 2023.

READ MORE: House Republicans pass redistricting plan that creates sprawling majority-Black congressional district

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.