'Katrina' Evacuees Encouraged
To Vote in New Orleans Municipal Elections April 22
APWU Web News Article #21-06, April 5, 2006
Citizens from New Orleans will have a chance to vote April 22 in the first election since Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast. “The APWU is encouraging displaced citizens to vote in the primary, as well as the general election next month, for offices such as mayor, city council and chief of police,” said union President William Burrus.
If voters affected by the storm cannot return to vote in their home parish, they can request an absentee mail ballot or vote early in 10 other Louisiana cities. And if the Louisiana legislature passes a bill currently under consideration, evacuees will be able to vote at satellite polling places in seven Texas cities and three other locations that have high concentrations of Katrina evacuees.
“We support the establishment of remote polling places,” said APWU President William Burrus. “Displaced Iraqis were given the opportunity to vote at locations around the world during their recent elections,” he noted. “What’s good for Iraqi refugees ought to be good for dislocated American citizens.”
Workers’ organizations and civil rights advocates are concerned that many citizens of New Orleans will become disenfranchised, leaving the interests of displaced citizens underrepresented in important recovery decisions. It was New Orleans’ poorest, most vulnerable residents who were hit hardest by the hurricane, they note.
“Many of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina are still dispersed and may not realize there’s an election,” said APWU Legislative Director Myke Reid. “We are trying to help spread the word that regardless of where they are now, they have the right to vote in this election as long as they have not re-registered elsewhere.”
Eligible New Orleans voters have until April 18, to request an absentee ballot to vote in the elections on Saturday, April 22. The New Orleans municipal general elections will be held Saturday, May 20. For complete information about voting in this election and other contests, Louisiana citizens can call 1-800-883-2805 or visit their state Elections Division Web site, www.sec.state.la.us/elections/elections-index.htm.