Officials work to update voting lines in time for next election

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 16, 2014

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield examines maps outlining district lines in the county in an effort to determine voting precincts for federal elections in June.

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield examines maps outlining district lines in the county in an effort to determine voting precincts for federal elections in June.

In the records room of the Lincoln County circuit clerk’s office are dozens of multi-colored maps representing a kaleidoscope of district lines and precinct geography, ready to be deciphered by Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield and his staff in light of the upcoming June elections.

Bairfield, who recently received new maps that reflect redistricting changes from the county board of supervisors, is now tasked with determining where residents will end up voting in the federal elections.

In January, the supervisors approved redistricting changes after holding a public hearing to receive citizen feedback.

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As part of the changes, new maps extend district one borders into district two to add approximately 1,000 persons into the district. The new map lines account for a population decrease in the district over the years.

After approval of the new maps, the supervisors sent them to Bairfield last weekend to begin the laborious, yet necessary, process of determining voting precincts.

For the next few months, the office staff will now be double-checking roads with districts by examining enlarged maps featuring blue, red, pink, orange and yellow swathes of geography that illustrate where the new districts begin and end.

“We are taking a very detailed look at all maps. We are determining where voters will be going to vote for the upcoming federal elections,” Bairfield said. It’s a job that needs to be completed by April, before the office mails voter card information to all area residences.

Voting location determinations are based on address, Bairfield noted. Information is compiled from an address library that stores data from previous elections. After examining this information, the clerk’s office then determines if it confirms or conflicts with the new maps. Then, the office selects a suitable polling location.

For a majority of Lincoln County residents, no changes to polling locations is anticipated.

“The only changes will be if a particular road or roads end up in a different district. We don’t anticipate significant changes per se, but this largely remains yet to be determined,” Bairfield said.

As a general rule, the vote tally tends to drop after redistricting, a concern Bairfield says he would like to alleviate. Other factors that affect overall voting percentages include location of polling area. The farther the polling place is away from a voter, the less likely it is he/she will vote.

Bairfield said his office, as well as the city clerk’s office, takes these concerns under consideration. He said despite the workload, voter cards with relevant voting information will be mailed out on time.

Federal elections for the Mississippi House and Senate, as well as circuit and chancery judges, will take place on June 3.

District 39 encompasses the entirety of all district maps; thus, Sen. Sally Doty is the senator for all Lincoln County residents.

On the other hand, District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak represents some areas of Lincoln County and District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, others.

Of particular importance to area voters in this year’s election, said Bairfield, is the new Mississippi voter ID law.

“So far, we have had three persons come to the office to get a voter ID card,” Bairfield said. “We encourage others to get a card if they plan on voting and don’t currently have a valid photo ID.”

To get a voter ID card, residents should bring any of the following forms of identification to the circuit clerk’s office.

• Any expired, but valid, document having the voter’s name and photograph issued by the U.S. government or any U.S. state.

• A birth certificate or any other document with the voter’s full legal name, date and place of birth.

• A social security card.

• A Medicare card.

• A Medicaid card.

• A Mississippi voter registration card.

• A utility bill issued within the preceding six months.

• Bank statements issued with the preceding six months.

• Paycheck issued within the preceding six months.