NAACP is considering a lawsuit to block the election until there is a plan that assures displaced voters will be given equal chance to vote in spring elections
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to block a Louisiana state election plan for New Orleans that will place a severe burden on black voters displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Justice Department must review the plan to insure that minority voting rights are protected.
NAACP President and CEO Bruce Gordon spoke with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday, February 14, and expressed the Association's strong desire to require the state to meet the burden of approving a plan that will not disenfranchise displaced African American citizens.
"The Justice Department should reject the plan as it is currently written by the Louisiana legislature unless substantive improvements are made to guarantee equal participation of minority voters," said Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP President & CEO. "How can anyone take issue with making it possible for citizens to vote? Shouldn't people involuntarily relocated outside of New Orleans be capable of voting for candidates in their hometown? We shouldn't penalize people who were forced to relocate to temporary homes, whether in Louisiana or in cities like Houston and Atlanta."
The plan (Act 40) approved by the state legislature allows for changes in parish voting locations as well as the use of election personnel from outside of the parish, but the NAACP and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus believe that more should be done to accommodate displaced voters. The lawmakers agreed to hold the emergency elections on April 22 in New Orleans for mayor, city council and other city offices. Early absentee balloting will take place from April 10 to April 15. "This is an aggressive schedule," said Gordon. "The state and Justice Department have a great deal of work to do to ensure the elections are fair."
"The NAACP will consider filing a lawsuit, or joining existing parties seeking court relief, to protect the voting rights of black voters," said John Jackson, NAACP Chief Policy Officer. "The NAACP favors out-of-state satellite voting sites and charges the state to meet the burden of making sure that African American voters receive accurate voter information."
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