This week, an interest group and LSU will hold a conference dedicated to making Louisianans think that the sky isn’t blue. LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs will host Fair Districts Louisiana to discuss changing the way the state draws up its electoral districts. The group criticizes the current process as excessively partisan. As things now stand, members of the Louisiana Legislature draw electoral districts for themselves, Congress, the courts, and the Public Service Commission. Some other interest groups across the country also think there’s a better way to redistrict than relying on state legislatures with the input of governors. This procedure, used by most states for decades, has produced lines favoring the party in power and/or incumbents in office just after the census every 10 years triggers a new look at how districts are shaped.
Articles about voting issues in Louisiana.
From voting rights for former felons to how election resources are spread out across the state, people sounded off on how they think elections in Louisiana could be improved. They spoke before the Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which held its second meeting at the state capitol Wednesday. The panel’s goal is to collect input from across the state about barriers some people face to accessing the voting booth. That information will then be passed along to the federal commission, which will compile it with input from other states to create a national report. “If we’re going to be true to no taxation without representation, I think everybody in this country needs to be able to vote,” Norris Henderson told the panel. He’s the executive director of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), an organization founded and run by former prisoners.
Louisiana: Secretary of State asking how much will it cost to change the way Louisiana votes | The Advocate
Louisiana is looking for new voting machines and a new way to vote. The Secretary of State’s office is seeking proposals to replace voting machines across the state and for software that will create a paper ballot on those machines that the voter can review before casting the vote. “It takes away the perception that the machine switched the votes,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Tuesday. It’s highly unlikely that vote switching could happen. But recent incidents, such as news that someone hacked into voter registration lists or that Russia may have interfered with elections, have led many to worry about possible computerized tampering at the ballot box. The system Schedler seeks would create a paper trail that would allow officials to go back and physically count the ballots cast.
Louisiana: Courts reject officials’ bid to block remedies for racist judicial elections | The Louisiana Weekly
The Terrebonne Parish Courthouse where Louisiana’s 32nd Judicial District Court is based. A lawsuit brought by the NAACP has resulted in the court’s at-large electoral scheme being declared racially discriminatory. A lawsuit that led to judicial elections in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish being declared racially discriminatory will move to the remedial stage despite efforts by the governor and attorney general — with help from a controversial law firm — to block a fix. Last week, three judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry’s attempt to appeal the liability decision against them in Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP et al. v. Jindal et al., the 2014 lawsuit brought by the civil rights group over the electoral scheme for the state’s 32nd Judicial District Court in Terrebonne Parish southwest of New Orleans.
A grassroots group, Fair Districts Louisiana, is helping to host a conference at LSU in January on the problem of politically gerrymandered district lines for Congress, the Legislature and other bodies. We need ideas for a better process. In Louisiana, as in most other states, the Legislature determines the electoral districts for congressional, state House and state Senate seats. The maps have prompted lawsuits in several states, amid growing criticism that political parties are using legislative control to give themselves unfair advantages.
Seizing on a national spotlight about the drawing of political maps, Louisiana residents trying to rework the state’s system for divvying up electoral districts on Wednesday (Nov. 1) announced a January summit they hope will bring about changes. “We have a problem with the current structure,” said Stephen Kearny, chairman of the event and co-founder of a grassroots, bipartisan group called Fair Districts Louisiana. “No matter how virtuous our politicians are, the conflict of interest in being able to choose your own voters in itself provokes bad behavior.” Fair Districts Louisiana is working with LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs on the daylong summit on Jan. 19. The event aims to start talks about revamping Louisiana’s current map-drawing method ahead of the next redistricting cycle tied to the 2020 Census.
Louisiana: 6 words could determine the right to vote for over 70,000 Louisiana residents | The Times Picayune
The decision on whether more than 70,000 Louisiana residents who are on probation or parole should have voting rights will depend greatly on the interpretation of six words, according to legal briefs filed by both sides in an appeal of the case. Since 1974, the Louisiana constitution has said no one can vote “while under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony,” and the right to vote would be restored “upon termination of state and federal supervision.” It is the phrase “while under an order of imprisonment” that both sides argue is key in their case. The Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington, D.C., is representing the advocacy group Voice of the Ex-Offender, as well as individual plaintiffs, in an ongoing effort to repeal Louisiana’s current voting law, which does not grant felons on parole or probation the right to vote.
Louisiana: State hires controversial law firm to block fix for racist judicial elections | Facing South
Back in August, a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by the NAACP that the at-large voting system for judges in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish southwest of New Orleans makes it difficult for black voters to elect candidates of their choice and thus violates the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars discrimination in voting because of race, color or language minority status. But rather than stand aside and let the legislature fix the districts when it convenes next year, since elections are not imminent, the defendants in the lawsuit — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) — are appealing early to block the remedial process.
What could Louisiana do with $6 million? How far do you think the state could stretch that money in additional infrastructure projects or health care? Those are the questions Secretary of State Tom Schedler is asking after the Oct. 14 elections garnered a scant 13.6 percent voter turnout statewide, and he’s asking lawmakers to allow some incomplete terms to be filled via appointment rather than special election to save voters money. In an interview with The News-Star, Schedler said he’s worked since taking office in 2010 to decrease the number of statewide elections, when possible, to reduce costs.
Louisiana: Advocates believe Louisiana’s voting rights have been under attack | The Louisiana Weekly
The U.S. courts are full of lawsuits challenging slick techniques by elected officials, like gerrymandering and state laws, designed to dilute the voting power of people of color. Current voter disenfranchisement tactics are part of a concerted effort by white elected officials to diminish the voting power of an increasing Brown America. A good example is Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Trump created the entity by an Executive Order in May 2017, claimed that thousands voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election, without providing any factual evidence. “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state,” according to The Washington Post.