CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury learned Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice did not approve the parish’s District 5 redistricting plan because proposed changes lower the percentage of black people in population, the voting age and the number of registered voters in the district significantly.
The Justice Department’s letter, dated Oct. 3 and addressed to Nancy P. Jensen, who wrote the redistricting plan with the jury members, stated that the jury’s plan added a white voter majority.
The parish plan added the entire population of the Lakeshore area into District 5, which the Justice Department said is “tantamount to choosing to reduce its minority voting strength.”
Judith Kelly, parish manager and treasurer, said jury members will meet with Jensen on Tuesday and the governing body has until Nov. 30 to come up with a new plan or other options that include going to court to keep the plan as proposed and answering questions posed by the Justice Department.
Police Juror Larry Beauchamp said his district was the most equitable voting district at 49 percent white and 47 percent black because all other districts were 60 percent to 40 percent, either being a black voting majority or white voting majority.
The Justice Department also said that black voters have had the ability to elect candidates in four benchmark districts that included Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7.
The proposed plan reduces the number of benchmark districts where black voters have the ability to elect candidates from four to three — districts 2, 3 and 7, the Justice Department said in its letter.
There are nine jury districts.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
COUNCIL ON AGING: Jurors said they would study partially funding the Council on Aging, which is facing nearly a $12,000 deficit.
WATER CONSERVATION: Jurors also agreed to advertise for a Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission member.
MASTER PLANS: Brent Soileau, director of the parish Economic Development District, said the towns of Clinton, Slaughter and Jackson will be holding meetings to discuss their respective master plans.
BUILDING PERMITS: Mike Salmon, chairman of the parish Planning and Zoning Committee, said his committee is studying equitable fees for Building Inspection Permits and will report to the jury soon on its findings.