Lauderdale County has conducted most of Meridian’s municipal elections. But in yesterday’s city council work session, the question was whether the county will conduct the one coming up.
“We have not heard from the city of meridian for quite some time. Today we wanted to come and make it public that we’re here to help to offer our services. We kind of got off on some other tangents while we were in there,” said Election Commissioner, Jeff Tate.
The issue wasn’t a matter of the county’s competency, however. The county has conducted 22 of Meridian’s 23 municipal elections, including the last one in 2013. It also ran the presidential election.
“They have extreme competence and confidence in their ability to conduct the election. There have been no real appeals as to their method,” said Councilman Dustin Markham.
Instead, a major concern was about money.
“Information was brought to my attention about what it was costing us for the county to do our election. It threw up a red flag that we possibly have an opportunity to save money by using an outside vendor [who’s] independent,” said Councilwoman Kim Houston.
Another topic brought up in the meeting was the issue of precincts and where they are located throughout the city.
“My concerns are that about five major precincts were changed for the municipal election. A lot of those polling places were changed from largely African American churches to non-African American churches,” said Mayor Percy Bland.
Back in 2013, the county had asked the council to redraw ward lines.
“We wanted the city council to have lines more in mirror of Lauderdale County. The council met. They voted 5-0 to change those lines. The mayor vetoed it. The city council unanimously overrode that veto. So, those lines are still in place,” said Tate.
“We voted to make those changes. But now information has been brought to my attention regarding some of the disparities where people are going to have to end up voting. It can create some confusion. You’re going to have to drive past one voting precinct to go to another one,” said Houston.