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Louisianans Head to Polls for First Major Statewide Election Since Katrina PDF  | Print |  Email
By M. Mindy Moretti,   
October 30, 2007

Election preparation is business-as-usual, although thousands vote early and absentee


This article appeared in the electionline newsletter and is repostd here with permission of the author. 


For the first time since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in late 2005, residents of Louisiana will head to the polls on October 20 for a statewide election to cast their ballot for positions including governor, members of the state legislature and local elections.


In 2005, the Secretary of State's office undertook a massive voter outreach program to ensure that every displaced voter had an opportunity to cast a ballot in the Orleans Parish elections nine months after the hurricanes. Although the office continues to update its Web site, advertise election dates and provide toll free voter assistance there was not an all-over mobilization effort for this election.


According to Elections Commissioner Angie LaPlace, the state did continue to help Orleans Parish and others work to train and retain election commissioners from outside the area and the Secretary of State secured pay raises for commissioners as an incentive to return for future elections.

The 2005 election in Orleans Parish saw a necessary launch of vote centers; however, for this election the parish has returned to largely neighborhood polling places. Some polling places still combine as many as 15 precincts, but nothing like the 50 or so that were combined in 2005. In St. Bernard Parish all precincts have been combined into five locations.

Louisiana: NOW Echoes Demand for Fair Elections for Hurricane Katrina Survivors PDF  | Print |  Email
By National Organization of Women   
March 24, 2006
In less than a month, the city of New Orleans will hold an election in which hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to cast votes, despite the fact that many of them are thousands of miles from home and not informed about the candidates—or even that an election is being held.

NOW stands today on behalf of its half-million contributing members with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the NAACP, the National Urban League and other civil rights leaders to call for the highest officials in the state and federal governments to ensure fair and accessible elections so that every New Orleanian has a vote and a voice in the political process that will directly impact their lives and their futures.

By pre-clearing the April 22 election, the U.S. Department of Justice disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of already-marginalized men and women, in clear disregard for democratic principles and their fundamental rights. These elections have been tainted before they have even been held. And the attorney general had—and still has—time for a change of mind and a change of heart and can bring justice for those survivors who have, thus far, seen so little.
Louisiana: Rally Calling for Election Postponement To Be Held April 1 in New Orleans PDF  | Print |  Email
By Press Release   
March 15, 2006

Evacuees Have the Right to Return and the Right to an Open, Free and Fair Election


Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, Bishop Paul Morton, City Council President Oliver Thomas, former Louisiana AFL-CIO President Sibal Holt, State Senator Cleo Fields, and scores of political, religious, and labor leaders, entertainers, and thousands of citizens will march and rally in New Orleans on Saturday April 1st to demand postponement of the illegal April 22 election and the right to return and rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.


With registered voters displaced in 44 states, the upcoming Louisiana election cannot proceed – especially as the state refuses to establish satellite polling places around the nation, and provide access to voter rolls to candidates, state elected officials or voter-registration groups, says Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.


Challenging the legitimacy of the election, Rev. Jackson will lead a coalition of organizations and leaders in a march into the “Katrina Zone” on April 1, 2006, demanding the right to return, the right to rebuild, and above all, the right to vote, “the right that protects all others.”


In early March, the U.S. District Court of Louisiana denied a lawsuit which sought to delay the April 22nd New Orleans municipal elections and allow special measures which would enable the displaced and dispersed residents of New Orleans to vote.

Louisiana Network of Voting Organizations Sees Major Challenges For the 2006 Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
By Louisiana Voting Rights Network   
March 14, 2006
Louisiana faces the greatest hurdle in the history of American elections. Over one million Louisiana citizens have lost their homes, yet many still have the right to vote. Voting stands at the very center of democracy. The right to cast a ballot has been strengthened by the 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.

The effort to locate-- and send information to-- all displaced voters scattered around the U.S. requires a huge amount of work. Each one must be sent official information on how to access the right to vote. The Louisiana Voting Rights Network is a partnership of civic and social issue groups, created to assist all citizens to vote -- wherever they may be residing.

On February 8, 2006, the Louisiana Secretary of State received a list of concerns-- and recommendations-- from the Louisiana Voting Rights Network. Thanks to changes made by the Secretary of State on his own authority, and further gains during the Special Legislative Session, some of the Network's concerns were addressed through 1) the passage of 3 voting rights bills, 2) to confront some of the mail in problems, the Secretary of State has set up a Baton Rouge P.O. Box to be used in place of the Orleans Parish Registrar mailing address, and as of March 7, and 3) some corrections made on the Secretary of State's website on March 7, 2006.
Louisiana: Protecting New Orleans' Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
By Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights   
March 05, 2006
With its elections next month, Louisiana is proving to be the first real battleground for Election Protection 2006. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights is doing to help ALL Louisiana voters exercise their right to vote.  

The Lawyers Committee has prepared two Voters' Bills of Rights for Louisiana - one for election day and one for absentee voting. Our National Campaign for Fair Elections, the Lawyers' Committee's integrated program of our Voting Rights Project, produced these materials on behalf of the Election Protection coalition. We are beginning to disseminate them among voters, activists, and more than 100 grassroots organizations to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot. 

Beginning months ago, the National Campaign for Fair Elections, which coordinates all of our work on election reform and voter protection, began meeting with the Louisiana Secretary of State and other key officials to ensure that all victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes are informed of their voting rights leading up to local elections on April 22nd. To that end, the Campaign helped organize a recent voter education meeting in Baton Rouge, LA, in conjunction with Rep. Cheryl Gray of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. We prepared and presented an earlier version of the two Bills of Rights, and I discussed recent changes made to Louisiana election law with regards to absentee and early voting. I also announced that we have activated our 1-866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection hotline, which will be staffed through the April 22nd elections to assist any voter or election worker with questions.
Louisiana: SoS Ater Says Orleans Elections Will Be Held As Soon As Possible PDF  | Print |  Email
By Press Release   
December 19, 2005
BATON ROUGE, LA – Secretary of State Al Ater wants to make it clear that the Orleans Municipal elections will be held as soon as possible.  At a press conference Monday afternoon he introduced a timeline of activities that are necessary before carrying out the elections.

“I recommended for the elections not to be held on Feb. 4, but that they be held as soon as possible, but no later than Sept. 30,” Ater said. “The Sept. 30 date was intended as the absolute latest date. It was never intended to be the day of the election. The Elections Division of the Secretary of State, along with the Orleans’ Clerk of Court and Registrar of Voters, is working diligently to conduct these elections as soon as possible.”

Several obstacles must be overcome in order to carry out the Orleans elections, according to Ater.

Under Louisiana's Election Code, it is against the law to bring in poll workers from other parishes.  Normally, the Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal District Court has approximately 2,500 registered voters of Orleans Parish trained and available to serve as poll commissioners on Election Day. The Clerk recently sent notices to the commissioners and offered training for new commissioners, but only 167 residents have offered to serve or to be trained to serve as poll commissioners since the hurricane.
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