Satellite Voting Urged for New Orleans’ Evacuees

April 6, 2006 – A coalition of civil rights groups is calling for satellite voting locations to be established in states that continue to house evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The evacuation and destruction of poor and predominantly black neighborhoods in New Orleans is leading to concern that many African Americans will be unable to cast ballots in what is widely seen as the most important election in New Orleans history. The National Policy Alliance said that as many as 153,300 potential voters won’t have easy access to the ballot for the cities upcoming April 22 municipal election.

An emergency vote plan established by Louisiana officials, and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, establishes 10 polling stations in Louisiana cities and allows for absentee ballots to be used by displaced residents. But the National Policy Alliance said those measures fall far short of what is needed.

“There must be satellite polling places set up in states housing large numbers of evacuees,” said Johnny Ford, Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama, and the co-chairman of the National Policy Alliance. “Many of these people have lost their homes, and lost friends and family members. We must take every step possible to ensure that they don’t lose their right to vote. Many of them can’t afford to travel home for the elections. Our nation has the resources to do this right; but we must have the conviction.”