TUPELO • Lee County officials will relocate two voting precincts ahead of elections next year, including a particularly busy precinct.
The Bissell precinct will move from Bissell Baptist Church to the Tupelo Furniture Market. The Belden precinct will move from the Belden Fire Station to Belden Baptist Church.
The Board of Supervisors recently approved the relocations, which were first proposed by Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney in April.
Dulaney said the current locations of both precincts – but especially Bissell – are inadequate for the kind of foot traffic seen on election days. Parking at Bissell has become particularly fraught.
“I know some people do not like change, but I think once they get to the furniture market, I’m hoping they will enjoy it once they get there,” Dulaney said.
Of the county’s 36 precincts, Bissell has the single most registered voters at any precinct.
Dulaney suggested moving the two precincts ahead of statewide elections this year, but supervisors did not ultimately approve that plan.
With supervisor approval now in hand, the new precinct locations will be used for all elections in the count next year, including presidential primaries in March and the presidential general election in November. A bond referendum in January for the Lee County School district will also use the new locations.
The new location of the Bissell precinct is about three miles from its previous location. The new Belden precinct is only about a third of a mile from the old location.
In 2018, supervisors agreed to relocate the Oak Hill and Tupelo 4 precincts and also merged the Davis and East Heights precincts. In 2016, officials moved a voting precinct in Nettleton.
In Mississippi, precinct closures and relocations can now proceed more quickly and with less fanfare than was once the case.
Any change of voting locations required approval by the Department of Justice for many years under the terms of the 1965 Voting Rights. Congress periodically renewed this preclearance requirement until the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated it in the 2013 case Shelby County V. Holder.