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August 27, 2012

Two south Alabama cities have delayed elections for two weeks because of T.S. Isaac

Gulf Shores postpones Tuesday election, issuing voluntary evacuation Monday (Updated) |

The city has postponed Tuesday's election to Sept. 11, and will issue a voluntary evacuation for residents living in low-lying areas starting Monday morning in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac's arrival on Tuesday afternoon. ...

Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said Sunday afternoon that the City Council would meet on Monday morning to declare a local state of emergency which allows the city to issue a voluntary evacuation order. The city also plans to postpone the Tuesday election until Sept. 11. The cost to reschedule the election should be minimal, Kennon said. Most of the costs will involve the paperwork used in the election, he said.

September 1, 2008

Louisiana: Gustav delays primary

The Hill reports: Hurricane Gustav is disrupting the GOP convention and a hotly contested Republican primary in Louisiana.

GOP candidates hoping to succeed retiring Rep. Jim McCrery (R) have suspended their campaigns, and their primary, set for Sept. 6, may be postponed because of the storm.

State officials are drafting contingency plans for potentially delaying the election one week, to Sept. 13, or further if necessary.

Jacques Berry, a spokesman for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, said in a telephone interview that setting the date any later than the 13th would cause the state to also move the primary runoff, which is set for Oct. 4. -- - Hurricane puts La. primaries on hold

June 8, 2006

Gulf Coast: population impact of 2005 hurricanes

The New York Times reports: After the twin barrages of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, the City of New Orleans emerged nearly 64 percent smaller, having lost an estimated 278,833 residents, according to the Census Bureau's first study of the area since the storms.

Those who remained in the city were significantly more likely to be white, slightly older and a bit more well-off, the bureau concluded in two reports that were its first effort to measure the social, financial and demographic impact of the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

The bureau found that while New Orleans lost about two-thirds of its population, adjacent St. Bernard Parish dropped a full 95 percent, falling to just 3,361 residents by Jan. 1. The surveys do not include the influx in both areas that has occurred this year as more residents begin to rebuild.

While the New Orleans area lost population, the Houston metropolitan area emerged with more than 130,000 new residents, many of them hurricane evacuees. Whites made up a slightly smaller percentage of Houston's population — 62.8 percent of the city in January compared with 64.8 percent last July, a month before Hurricane Katrina hit. -- Reports Reveal Katrina's Impact on Population - New York Times

The Times also has a good map of the Gulf Coast with population losses and gains marked for each county.

May 9, 2006

New Orleans: the political effects of Katrina

John R. Logan writes in Population Displacement and Post-Katrina Politics: The New Orleans Primary: New Orleans’ first election after Hurricane Katrina was conducted under unusual conditions. A large share of the population remained displaced outside the city, and the majority of displaced persons were living outside the State of Louisiana. The foreseeable result was that the electorate was much smaller than in prior elections, and the political voice of black neighborhoods – the ones most affected by flood damage – was much diminished.

This report reviews what was known about displacement prior to the election and analyzes its impacts on the primary results. The major findings are:

1. It was well known in the weeks leading up to the April 22 primary that the majority of New Orleans voters were living outside the city, and the greater share of these was living outside of Louisiana. Displacement was not random in terms of race or social class. Those living away from home were disproportionately black residents and among blacks they were disproportionately low-income. Among displaced persons, blacks were considerably more likely than white to be living outside the metropolitan area and outside the state.

2. Total voter turnout, 108,000, was considerably below previous elections – 17% less than the usual turnout in a mayoral election (represented by the March 2002 mayoral race) and 45% less than the potential turnout (represented by the November 2004 national election). Even this level of participation depended on the unprecedented number of absentee ballots that were cast (21,000). -- report2.pdf (application/pdf Object)

April 15, 2006

New Orleans: the racial impact of the absentee voting plan

Tracy Clark-Flory writes on Louisiana officials have offered two alternatives to accommodate displaced residents: absentee ballots, and 10 "satellite" polling stations set up around the state to which voters can travel. Despite a recent outcry, a federal judge in Louisiana determined that officials were not required to provide polling stations outside the state.

Sharing Samuels' concern are civil rights advocates, legal experts and researchers who have tracked Katrina's toll. They warn that not nearly enough has been done to protect against the disenfranchisement of New Orleans residents -- a majority of them African-American and from poorer neighborhoods ravaged by Katrina. Beyond the reliance on absentee ballots and in-state satellite polling stations, critics say the integrity of the election is threatened by serious problems within the city itself, where some polling stations are dilapidated and possibly hazardous, and others are inaccessible to the disabled -- a violation of federal law. ...

According to John Logan, a professor of sociology at Brown University, a recent survey shows that more than twice as many blacks as whites were displaced out of state after Katrina. Logan headed a study released in January that found that New Orleans could lose up to 80 percent of its black population if residents displaced by Katrina were unable to return to their neighborhoods. Logan's research included the Current Population Survey released by the U.S. Department of Commerce in December, which showed that an estimated 102,000 African-Americans outside Louisiana were eligible to vote, compared with 48,000 whites. The number of blacks scattered within the state drops to an estimated 31,000, compared with 92,000 whites.

"The population that has returned to the city or general area is white and middle class," Logan said. "It's quite clear that if voting is higher within the state than by people out of state, that introduces a serious race and class bias to the electorate." -- Whitewashing the New Orleans vote? | News

April 11, 2006

Louisiana: hundreds vote early in New Orleans

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports: Elaine Stovall, a 62-year-old retiree still displaced from eastern New Orleans, walked off a chartered bus in Lake Charles on Monday morning to vote in the New Orleans elections, becoming one of the first to cast a ballot in one of the most scrutinized elections in American history. ...

One of several hundred displaced New Orleanians taking advantage of satellite polls across Louisiana, Stovall was among more than 100 people who traveled to Lake Charles on a bus sponsored by ACORN, an activist group that has criticized preparations for the elections and has worked to educate and transport voters.

Treasuring the secret ballot, she declined to say who she voted for, as did many others. But many said they voted for Mayor Ray Nagin, while a smaller number indicated support for Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who some polls show as Nagin's chief threat. ...

In all, 1,642 voters turned out by 4 p.m., 30 minutes before closing, at early voting locations in New Orleans and in 10 other parishes across the state, a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of registered voters believed to be living out of town because of Hurricane Katrina. The largest vote totals came in Orleans Parish, with 990 votes cast, and in East Baton Rouge Parish, with 244 votes. -- 2,190 cast early ballots in New Orleans elections

March 24, 2006

Blogs on Louisiana after Katrina

Luke E. Debevec writes in the Legal Intelligencer: As the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from the multiple traumas inflicted during and after Katrina and Rita, numerous blogs and other Internet resources are addressing the legal ramifications of the storms and their aftermath. -- After the Storms:
Blogs Step Up
Response to Hurricanes

Among the blogs listed on voting rights issues are FairVote, Paper Chase, and yours truly.

March 16, 2006

Louisiana: DOJ preclears New Orleans voting plan

The Washington Post reports: The Justice Department approved plans yesterday for the first New Orleans election since Hurricane Katrina, despite objections from civil rights groups who said the voting arrangements do not adequately accommodate the city's displaced black voters.

The storm has tilted the racial balance of city residents in favor of whites, many believe, and controversy has surrounded the question of what kind of accommodations should be made to allow the tens of thousands of black evacuees to vote from outside the state.

The state plan for the election calls for sending mass mailings to evacuees, easing restrictions on absentee ballots, and setting up satellite polling stations around Louisiana. But it stops short of arranging for balloting in other states such as Texas, Mississippi and Georgia, where many evacuees are dispersed.

Several civil rights groups, including the NAACP, urged the Justice Department to call for out-of-state polling places. -- Election Plan for New Orleans Approved

March 13, 2006

Louisiana: voting rights symposium at Southern University

The Louisiana Weekly reports: "Preserving Power: Protecting Katrina Voting Rights and Renewing the Voting Rights Act," is a free two-day symposium that being hosted by the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25, 2006. Keynote speaker will be Theodore Shaw, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. -- Louisiana Weekly - Your Community. Your Newspaper.

February 9, 2006

Louisiana: absentee voter bills clear House and Senate committees

The Shreveport Times reports: Thousands of Louisiana residents forced from their homes by hurricanes Katrina and Rita shouldn't be deprived of the right to vote in state and local elections but they should have to make some kind of effort, lawmakers said Wednesday.

House and Senate committees Wednesday approved bills to ease restrictions on first-time voters, to allow mail-in votes and to allow evacuees to vote early in person at registrars' offices in specific parishes around the state.

Without the changes, "there's a potential for disenfranchisement," said Sen. Charles Jones, D-Monroe, author of SB16.

Secretary of State Al Ater, whose office administers elections, told the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that the Legislature needs to approve the changes or have a federal judge take over the elections.

"I can almost assure you, from the legal challenges I've had in court, if we don't do this ourselves, someone else will do it for us," Ater said. "Besides, it's the fair and just thing." -- The Shreveport Times

February 8, 2006

Louisiana: civil rights groups pushing absentee voting plan

The Shreveport Times reports: Hurricane evacuees who ended up in parishes or states outside their home districts should be allowed to vote by mail or in person wherever they are, representatives of citizen rights groups from across the state said Tuesday.

Under the umbrella organization Louisiana Industrial Areas Foundation Network, the groups support several bills to be debated by the Legislature. The bills seek to allow evacuees to vote by mail or in person at any registrar's office in elections that affect their homes. Several bills seek to suspend a state law requiring first-time voters to cast ballots in person.

"The 25,000 evacuees in Avoyelles Parish won't have a say in what's going on" if the Legislature doesn't establish a way for them to vote, said Jacqueline Marchand, a resident of a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer village in Bunkie. ...

The coalition consists of the Jeremiah Group from Orleans and Jefferson parishes, the Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith with members in Ouachita, West Carroll, Bossier, Caddo, Rapides and Avoyelles parishes. -- The Shreveport Times

December 3, 2005

New Orleans: governor delays city elections

AP reports: Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco agreed Friday to postpone New Orleans' Feb. 4 elections for mayor and City Council for as long as eight months because of the damage and dislocation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Blanco's decision came hours after Louisiana's top elections official recommended the delay, saying polling places had not been rebuilt and hundreds of thousands of voters remained scattered across the country. -- New Orleans Votes Delayed - Los Angeles Times

November 22, 2005

"Voting after Katrina"

From the American Constitution Society blog: ACS is pleased to announce the availability of a transcript from "Voting After Katrina: Ensuring Meaningful Participation," a November 1 panel co-hosted by The Constitution in the 21st Century project's Democracy and Voting Rights issue group and the Center for American Progress. -- ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society

November 16, 2005

Louisiana: the political and governmental effects of Katrina

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports: New Orleans' losses to Hurricane Katrina are turning out to be St. Tammany Parish and Jefferson Parish's gains, if burgeoning population is considered a plus. On the other hand, the wholesale layoffs at New Orleans City Hall precipitated by the collapse of the tax base are being portrayed in some quarters as an opportunity for long-overdue reform.

Katrina, in other words, did not play fair and square with the New Orleans area. There are winners and losers, though it may be too soon to tell them apart. But all of the most heavily affected areas -- including the devastated downriver parishes, St. Bernard and Plaquemines -- now must grapple with the same question: What's the right size government for a drastically altered political reality?

The answers are not always obvious. -- Katrina to redraw region's political picture

Thanks to Ernie the Attorney for the link.

November 2, 2005

New Orleans: Secretary of State pushes for changes in elections

AP reports: New Orleans is scrambling to hold credible elections next year though hundreds of thousands of voters have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana's secretary of state said Tuesday. ...

"This is probably the most important election in the history of New Orleans because whoever is the leadership in this election is basically going to be charged with rebuilding that city," Ater said at a forum in Washington sponsored by the Center for American Progress and American Constitution Society. "That is not a small test."

Ater is leading a state push to change some of the election laws before many state residents simply register elsewhere, forfeiting their right to vote in New Orleans even if they plan to eventually return.

For example, he is asking the Legislature to change the state's purge laws, which assume voters have moved elsewhere when they miss an election and a notification card sent to their home is returned as undeliverable. If such cards were sent now, the post office has said almost all registered voters in New Orleans would qualify to be purged, Ater said. -- AP Wire | 11/01/2005 | Post-Katrina elections present problems

October 26, 2005

Democrats support bill to give absentee ballot to Katrina evacuees

The Birmingham News reports: Rep. Artur Davis' proposal to give displaced hurricane evacuees a chance to vote absentee in their home state elections has gained support on Capitol Hill but so far only from Democrats.

The legislation, if approved, would treat evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi like military personnel and let them vote back home in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections.

Since its introduction Sept. 13, Davis' bill has attracted 33 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats, and a Senate version of the bill has three Democratic supporters. ...

The proposal would require voters to certify that they are storm evacuees, provide their former address, and attest that they plan to return to their original residence after the election. Each state's own absentee voting laws would also apply. -- Democrats support bill to allow absentee voting by evacuees

October 14, 2005

Louisiana: Katrina may have lessened Democratic and black voting power

The Washington Post reports: The massive population shift caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita holds seismic political implications for Louisiana, which faces a near-certain reduction of its congressional delegation and a likely loss in black-voter clout that could severely affect the state's elected Democrats.

Less than two months after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, leaving much of New Orleans and surrounding areas unlivable, Louisiana officials are beginning to grapple with the bewildering new political landscape. The storms and resultant flooding caused more than 1 million residents to flee their homes, many for far-flung destinations from which they may never return. -- Storms Alter Louisiana Politics