NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon said today the election scheduled for April 22 in New Orleans should be postponed until the state of Louisiana devises a plan for implementing effective absentee ballot measures and allows satellite voting from states with large concentrations of displaced New Orleans residents.
Gordon said: "To hold the New Orleans election on April 22 would violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and disenfranchise thousands of voters forced to evacuate their homes because of Hurricane Katrina. If provisions can be made to allow Iraqi and Mexican expatriates to vote in their national elections then surely we can do no less for American citizens forced to relocate through no fault of their own."
Despite claims by Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater that adequate steps have been taken to give displaced voters the opportunity to cast their ballots, the NAACP is concerned that because many voters have moved several times since the hurricane struck August 29, 2005, they will not receive word about polling stations and absentee ballot information. According to one published report, fewer than 10,000 registered voters have requested absentee ballots.
The NAACP, with assistance from People for the American Way Foundation, has opened 14 Voter Assistance Centers in states such as Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and Alabama. New Orleans voters may call the special NAACP voter hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for additional information. The hotline was set up in partnership with People for the American Way Foundation and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Gordon will join other civil rights and political leaders at a rally at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 1 at the Convention Center parking lot in New Orleans. The rally will be followed by a march from the Convention Center to the Crescent City Connection Bridge. This will be followed by a press conference at 2 p.m.
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