Thursday, April 13, 2006

What's Wrong With this Voting Picture?

Compare the NY Times map from Oct. 2, 2005, which indicates the total number of evacuees in states outside Louisiana (more than 700,000) with the recent New Orleans Times-Picayune map of the number of people who had requested absentee ballots by last Friday (less than 11,000), and you may ask, "What is wrong with this picture?" The states of Texas and Alabama received over 100,000 evacuees, yet only 3557 requests from Texas and a mere 315 from Alabama had been received by last Friday.

In the run-up to city elections that will determine the future of New Orleans, there are signs that New Orleans evacuees may be subject to a virtual disfranchisement of gigantic proportions. With less than two weeks remaining before the election on April 22, records available at NOLA.com indicate that less than 15,000 of the more than 500,000 evacuees scattered across the country have requested absentee ballots.

As ColorOfChange.org has written, "Everyone watching knows what will happen if elections go forward without a change" in this situation: "the Black vote will be suppressed and the ability for Black New Orleanians to claim their future [will be] compromised. During Iraq's election, the U.S. government provided polling places in U.S. cities with large numbers of Iraqi-Americans. Why won't it do the same for thousands of mostly Black displaced New Orleanians?"

If you think there's something wrong with this picture, there is something you can do: Sign this petition to Governor Blanco, and demand satellite voting for the citizens of the New Orleans diaspora:

Setting up satellite voting centers outside the State of Louisiana in areas with large numbers of displaced residents is a reasonable, effective way to improve their access to voting rights. Please make your voice heard, and help to ensure that all New Orleanians have equal access to voting and being involved in determining the future of their city.

In addition to signing the petition above, please Call Gov. Blanco's office at (866)-366-1121, (225)-342-0991, or (225)-342-7015. Tell the person who answers that you're calling on Governor Blanco to provide satellite voting centers for displaced New Orleanians outside the State of Louisiana, even if it means postponing the April 22nd election.

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