Lawsuit alleges gerrymandered state district dilutes black vote

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Three African American men in the Delta filed a federal lawsuit accusing the state of gerrymandering one of its districts in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Civil Rights attorneys argue in the lawsuit that the boundaries of Senate District 22, which is located primarily in the Mississippi Delta, intentionally dilute African-American voting strength in the area. And they’ve asked U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves to order state officials to redraw the district before statewide elections in 2019. “There will be a lot of focus on redistricting when election lines everywhere are redrawn after the 2020 census,” said Jackson civil rights attorney Rob McDuff, who is working with the Mississippi Center for Justice on the lawsuit.  “But because there is a problem with District 22 that needs to be cured before the census and before the 2019 election, we are bringing this case now.”

The defendants are Gov. Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, and Attorney General Jim Hood. Senate District 22, which has been held by Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, since 2004, covers six counties in the Delta and central Mississippi.