A federal judge ruled Wednesday that one of Mississippi’s 52 state Senate districts violates the Voting Rights Act because it does not give African-American voters an “equal opportunity” to elect a candidate of their choice. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in a lawsuit that challenges the composition of Senate District 22. The district stretches through parts of six counties in the Delta down into the Jackson suburbs of Madison County. It has a 51 percent black voting-age population and a white senator, Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale.
The lawsuit was filed in July by three black people. One of them lost in 2015 to Clarke, who took office in 2004. Clarke is not seeking re-election to the Senate this year. Instead, he is running for state treasurer.
Reeves is giving lawmakers a chance to redraw District 22 and possibly other Senate districts. Reeves also said in his order Wednesday that legislators could choose to extend the qualifying deadline for candidates in any districts that would be redrawn.
March 1 is candidates’ qualifying deadline for statewide, regional, legislative and county offices in Mississippi.