[JURIST] The NAACP [advocacy website] Saturday urged the US Department of Justice [official website] to block a Louisiana state election plan for New Orleans [JURIST report] that will make it very difficult for displaced black voters to participate in the election. Though the election plan [LA Secretary of State backgrounder] allows for changes in parish voting locations as well as the use of election personnel from outside the parish, the NAACP and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus [official website] believe Louisiana should do more to accommodate black voters displaced by Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. The election plan, drawn up by Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater, will also distribute absentee ballots to residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The DOJ is required to review and approve the plan under the terms of the 1965 Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder].
Recently, the Advancement Project [advocacy website], a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] against top Louisiana state officials challenging the election plan on the grounds that it places too much emphasis on absentee voting and would keep blacks out of office. The NAACP will consider filing a lawsuit itself, or joining an existing lawsuit, but favors the emphasis on absentee ballots in an effort to make sure blacks get to vote in the April 22 election. Read the NAACP press release.