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Suppressing Louisiana votes through airlift?

October 20th, 2005 by Spencer Overton · 13 Comments

I just received the following email from Professor Nate Persily at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  It invokes the issue I raised in my first post to this blog regarding the political complexion of Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina, and that Sherrilyn Ifill discussed here.  Note that prior to Katrina, Louisiana was 32.5% African American and New Orleans was 67.3% African-American. 

Professor Persily writes:

"A lawyer working with the Louisiana Governors office has asked me what remedy the state may have against FEMA for their refusal to release the names and new temporary addresses of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.  In particular, the Governor wants to make sure they receive absentee ballots for the February elections.  FEMA has cited privacy concerns to justify their refusal to release the names and addresses.  For some reason, it also appears that FEMA is unwilling to mail or forward the absentee ballot request forms or ballots itself (thereby not having to release the names) and the post office does not have forwarding addresses for most evacuees, so the state cannot simply mail the forms to the old addresses and have them forwarded.  Assume that a FOIA request will prove unsuccessful and that individual evacuees on their own initiative could request and receive absentee ballots.  

However, the question is:   Are there other constitutional or federal statutory claims that the state could make to compel the release of such a list?" (emphasis added).  A news story on this issue is available here.

 

Tags: politics & voting rights

13 responses so far ↓

  • Gravatar

    1 GreyHawk // Oct 20, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    The refusal to provide for forwarding of mail can be interpreted as a deliberate interference with the post office, i.e. tampering with the mail.

    Its a federal offense.

    Not to mention that the failure to provide forwarding services or help enable the evacuees to get their post also deprives them of timely notification and response to bills, legal notices, summons, etc. - an act that could, for many, have expensive repurcussions.

    The onus is upon FEMA to provide the re-establishment or enabling of normal mail delivery as part of supporting the evacuees until such time as they can be returned.

    Failure to do so is negligence and a de facto dereliction of duty.

    This should be brought to the attention of the media and the appropriate Congresscritters.

    Above all else, this unfairly suppresses the rights and freedoms of the evacuees.

  • Gravatar

    2 HungryBlues // Oct 23, 2005 at 1:56 am

    FEMA Does Vote Suppression

    One of Spencer Overtons colleagues, Professor Nate Persily, has first hand info on how FEMA is refusing to give Louisiana the names and current addresses of the evacuees�info the state needs in order to make sure they receive absentee ballots (via Pro

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