Louisiana Purging Voter Rolls of Katrina Refugees

Just Democracy reported this past week that the Bush Regime, with the help of the Louisiana state govt, is reaching the culmination of its plan to make New Orleans a white, Republican city by using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to rid the city of its poor and its black populations.

The federal government has found yet another way of disenfranchising poor Black residents of New Orleans. If losing their homes to faulty government engineering, enduring days of anguish and death due to an indifferent and sluggish federal emergency response, and forced to live in flimsy, formaldehyde infested trailer homes for now over two years was not enough, the government has once again smacked down the Black citizens of New Orleans.

The Louisiana government’s decision to purge the voting lists of those citizens believed to have relocated has been met with opposition by civil rights leaders and Black rights advocates. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has already filed a Civil rights law suit against the state of Louisiana stating that the voter purge has broken key laws set to protect the disenfranchisement Black voters in the state. Because of Louisiana’s history of racial discrimination before the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, all voting changes in Louisiana and other Southern states must be approved by federal officials. In this latest case, Louisiana skirted this requirement and has undertaken the voter purge without seeking approval from higher authorities. The lawsuit set forth by the NAACP challenges the current voter purging taking place as being non-compliant with this rule, as the purge was undertaken without the necessary pre-approval of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Not that Gonzales’ DOJ cares or would have done anything to stop it. This is, after all, what the Bush response to Katrina has been about from the beginning: getting blacks and the poor out of the city, making sure they can’t come back, then purging them from the rolls so they can’t vote in New Orleans while at the same time facilitating the return of the white corporatocracy and affluent white residents. Thanks to Karl Rove’s militantly prejudicial reconstruction policies, New Orleans is well on its way to becoming a DisneyWorld tourist center with a vibrant (mostly white) downtown and thriving (mostly white and affluent) suburbs. Once they get the New Orleans refugees that FEMA spread out over a dozen states removed from the voting rolls, a previously Democratic stronghold will have become a Republican playground.

It has been a pretty straightforward pogrom. FEMA relocated thousands of refugees in other states without their permission, HUD refused to release money that had been authorized to rehab public housing (2 years later, it still hasn’t let go), the reconstruction money that was released went almost exclusively to white businesses and homeowners, many of them not even in New Orleans, and black homeowners were forced to scrounge trying to fix their houses when insurance companies disallowed their claims and the Bush Administration (through Rove) ignored their cries for help. So did the Democratic Congress.

Having forcefully removed the refugees, not just from the city but from the state itself, and made it next to impossible for them to come back, now they’re removing their right to vote in New Orleans because they’re out of state and haven’t come back. To make sure, the government that has been glacially slow when it comes to reconstructing black neighborhoods turned into a veritable whirlwind of activity when it began the purge.

The speed and efficiency with which the voter purge was undertaken did not allow for many registered voters to contest the decision. Although, even if the purge had allowed for disenfranchised voters to contest the decision, it is safe to assume that the struggling victims of New Orleans have so many worries on their plate, like basic survival, that many would not have been able to weave through the bureaucratic mess of reinstating themselves as active voters. As it stood, Voters were given one month to prove they had canceled their out-of-state registrations. After that, they had to appear in person at their voter registrar’s office with documentation that their non-Louisiana registration had been canceled. If they could not proof their right to vote in Louisiana within one month, they were taken off the voter rolls. By the end of the purge more than 21,000 people had their names dropped, with the majority being from neighborhoods that were hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and almost all being Black.

(emphasis added)

Amazing how fast they expect you to go considering the snail’s pace they assume when they’re supposed to be helping you recover from a disaster. And the roadblocks they throw up in front of you are not considered sufficient reason to miss their deadline. The thousands of refugees currently housed around Houston won’t even have received their notifications until the 30-day response period is all but over.

But never mind. There’s no political agenda behind this and Katrina has nothing to do with it.

The timing of this purge is particularly crucial now with the 2008 elections around the corner. However, many argue that the voter purge was the fairest course of action, given the circumstances of dual registration. Secretary of state spokesman Jacque Berry argues that the purge “had absolutely nothing to do with Katrina.” Berry says that the state “found a certain number, which ended up being around 55,000 voters who we think may have been the same as voters registered to vote in another state.”

But a number of New Orleans voters charge that they were removed from the rolls without notification (shades of Katherine Harris, Ken Blackwell, and Tim Griffin), and black voters don’t trust either the state or the city to protect their political rights. They smell a scam, a mechanism for deliberate disenfranchisement masquerading as an attempt to contain the infamous myth of “voter fraud”. And where have we heard that before?

JD sums up the problem this way:

But perhaps most important in the voter purge is the distrust with which Blacks in New Orleans and Louisiana in general view the actions of their government. The federal and state government has let these citizens down time and time again. It seems that they have become America’s invisible huddled masses. And the loss of their voter rights makes them ever more invisible, and lessens their already diminished political weight. The government has not shown itself to be reoccupied with the wellbeing of Louisiana’s black population. In every turn of events since Hurricane Katrina hit, and before it hit, the government has proven itself to be a negative and neglectful force in the lives of Black Louisianans. There is no reason why the Black citizens of Louisiana should trust their voter rights to a government that has actively disenfranchised and neglected them.

Any of the governments, Federal, state or local. They’re all rigged.

(Cross-posted at The Matewan Chronicles)

22 Responses to “Louisiana Purging Voter Rolls of Katrina Refugees”

  1. What actually happened is the national Dem leadership collaborated with Bush on this plan. Instead of, say, trying to push through some form of WPA, the Dems allowed Bush to move the former residents out and move illegal aliens in to take the jobs that they could have done. Scroll back through the contemporaneous entries at the link to read it as it happened.

    The U.S. got screwed several ways because the Dems collaborated with Bush: a) high-priced contracts, b) low safety standards for illegal workers will lead to health costs, c) warehousing former residents, d) social costs of not getting former residents off welfare.

    But, at least no “immigrants” were “scapegoated”.

  2. Amos says:

    Another laughable black helicopter conspiracy theory.

  3. Mick Arran says:

    You know, I’ve proven that I’m as ready to slap down Dems as Pubs when they act like assholes but they bear zero responsibility for the reconstruction fiasco. Not only didn’t they “collaborate”, they actively fought a lot of this. Gov Blanco single-handedly aborted Bush’s attempt to declare martial law in NO, and Dems tried (at first) to force the Pub-controlled Congress to allocate funds where they needed to go instead of into the pockets of Pub-contributing corporations and add provisions about Federal contractors having to hire American workers that the Pub majority shot down without debate.

    Nope, I’m afraid there’s one person primarily responsible for the way reconstruction was mishandled, and that’s Reconstruction Czar Karl Rove, who made the rules and hand-picked the players. Secondary responsibility to the greedy corporate puppets of the Republican Congress of ’05. Next to the two of them, the Dems are innocent little lambs.

    Amos, I think you’ve nailed it.

  4. NeoAmerican says:

    It took you two years to figure this out?

  5. mick says:

    NeoAmerican:

    If you’re talking to me, no. I’ve been writing steadily about Rove’s plot since the week after the hurricane when the martial law game went down, most recently in May. But you’d be surprised how many people still don’t know what’s happened and why.

  6. ibfamous says:

    Just a few things you left out; Louisiana, no matter how liberal New Orleans is, or was, votes Republican every four years. That will not be changed by the Katrina fiasco. The other thing you might want to consider is that it’s not just “poor black folk” who are getting screwed (http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-9/119000919949860.xml&coll=1) and suffering from the lack of recovery that was begun by the GOP and continued by the Dems.

    Mortgage foreclosures are skyrocketing here, (http://www.nola.com/timespic/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-9/1189923755135210.xml&coll=1) but no bailout because it doesn’t effect big business, uh, the markets enough.

    We have a vibrant African-American middle class that has, and continues to work hard and fight long odds to succeed and prosper, yet they’re never mentioned as they spend all their off hours renovating their flooded homes, often right next door to the middle class Caucasians, Asians and Latinos who are doing the same. So stop with the racist crap and consider that its people who are suffering down here, not your political ideology.

  7. Steve says:

    I’m still trying to figure out where Bush and Rove hid the machine they used to cause hurricane Katrina so they could turn NO into a “white city.”

    I mean, obviously they did it. Right????

  8. M in NO says:

    S should people be allowed to vote in two states? I don’ t think so. The only way you loose your right to vote in Louisiana is to register somewhere else. The only people being dropped from the roles are people that registered in another state. I fully support anyone who has evacuated and wants to return as soon as possible voting in our elections, but I take registering to vote in another state a sign of Im not returning soon. No one has lost their right to vote. We are just making sure that no one can vote twice. We as a state are following the law. Imagine the problems if we find out after the 08 presidential election that some people voted in two states .

  9. ibfamous says:

    steve, you are a moron

  10. Mick Arran says:

    ibfamous:

    I left out a lot. It’s a blogpost, not a book. Even so, your criticisms are invalid.

    …no matter how liberal New Orleans is, or was, votes Republican every four years.

    Does it, really? That’s not what Karl Rove thinks. He looks at NO and sees a Democratic bastion in a Southern state.

    The other thing you might want to consider is that it’s not just “poor black folk” who are getting screwed….

    I’m aware of it. I’ve written elsewhere that the treatment of NO is, to some extent, as much a class issue as a race issue. But if you’re trying to argue that “poor black folks” didn’t take the brunt of the Administration’s – especially Rove’s – abuse after Katrina, from the attempt to declare martial law because, as we all know, all black males are criminals and without the military to protect property there would be riots and widespread mob behavior by them, to the unceremonious dumping of thousands of poor black families in distant states (Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, etc), then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    We have a vibrant African-American middle class that has, and continues to work hard and fight long odds to succeed and prosper, yet they’re never mentioned….

    Really? Then what’s this a reference to?

    ….and black homeowners were forced to scrounge trying to fix their houses when insurance companies disallowed their claims and the Bush Administration (through Rove) ignored their cries for help. So did the Democratic Congress.

    That isn’t “racist crap”, pal. Those are facts. Yes, Asians and Latinos and even a few whites got screwed because they lived in the wrong neighborhood or were poor, and the ones who are trying to pull together and reclaim their city deserve a lot of credit. But this isn’t about the few. It’s about the many.

    Go to YouTube and type “katrina” or “FEMA trailers” into the search engine. Then watch the vids people made of the camps and the conditions, remembering that nothing much has changed in 2 years. Then count the number of white faces in those camps. There won’t be very many.

    This has been little short of a forced black diaspora, and the evidence is overwhelming that that was the intent.

    M in NO:

    Technically, maybe, but you’re missing the point. Go back and read Just Democracy‘s summation again. You have a lot more trust than they do.

    Criminals who’ve lost their right to vote should be taken off the rolls, too. That’s what Katherine Harris used as an excuse to purge Florida’s voter rolls before the 2000 election, only instead of purging just the roughly 3-5000 (that’s a generous estimate) of criminals whose names hadn’t yet been removed, she erased over 20,000 names of black people who had never done anything, making it impossible for them to vote.

    We now know that was a deliberate tactic (among several others) conceived by Rove to minimize minority participation in a state everyone knew was going to be close. Rove didn’t steal the election at the Supreme Court, he stole it by disenfranchising thousands and thousands of minority voters, mostly black, who would have voted Democratic.

    Do you really think, after 2 years of lousy treatment and tricks and promises nobody ever intended to keep, that they should be so gullible as to believe this move isn’t just another excuse to take away their rights? Even if it genuinely isn’t, there’s a trust issue that has to be faced, dealt with, and overcome before skepticism can be released. If you’d been consistently lied to for 2 solid years, would you believe anything they said?

    I don’t think so.

  11. Steve says:

    ibfamous,

    As are you…

  12. ibfamous says:

    mick, i don’t have to watch youtube, i’m living this shit everyday and you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground!

  13. Then as opposed to jumping to invective, ib, how about taking a moment or two and actually telling us? you know… little debate… maybe… little less anger.

    that’s kinda how we like to do things around here. Though, if you feel like just cursing up a storm, go to it, we won’t delete ya.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve said at the beginning this isn’t a Bush hates black people thing quite as much as a Bush doesn’t care about poor people (or maybe a little more accurate, non rich people) thing; though it is telling that so many black people happen to fall into this group.

    The key point here is that while wealthy, often times out of state, developers building luxury condos and hotels are getting a leg up while those who really need government assistance, ie. the unrich, are getting mired by red tape and stonewalls. And, it would appear, while they’re getting bogged down in said red tape, it would also seem that certain folks are taking advantage of the fact by purging them from the polls.

    This last little bit is particularly curious because the same people who are getting purged might also be the ones who are probably most displeased with the current government at all levels and therefore most prone to “voting the bums out” as the old saying goes.

    Just a thought.

    Now if you live in a different reality, say so.

  14. mick says:

    ib, maybe you do need to go to YouTube. Sounds like you’re living in a bit of a bubble. But wherever you are, you’re clearly NOT stuck in a FEMA trailer camp outside Houston and having every effort you make to get home stymied by the PTB, who couldn’t care less.

  15. ibfamous says:

    I live in the city, where I’ve been dealing with blackouts, crime, lies and misinformation being spread on our behalf for what seems like an eternity. There aren’t enough doctors (there’s a mental health care crisis here that you cannot fathom) or first responders to handle even the slightest emergency much less our day to day struggles. Our infrastructure is destroyed and I don’t have to look at FEMA trailers parks online, I can just take a walk through my neighborhood and see families of five who have been living in these trailers for a year and a half (and yes there are two trailer parks within five minutes walking distance from my house).

    Now if you’ll look at my original post you’ll see that my complaint was how you’ve politicized the suffering in my city, my state and to my displaced neighbors. You’re complaining about your national politics and I pointed out that even before Katrina this state was a solid GOP block vote. and as much as you might not like to hear it, or no matter how politically incorrect it might be to say, many of the displaced are not only better off getting out of here, they’re also much happier. If you were able to bring them back where would they live (rent is comparable to Manhattan these days) and where would they work? Even if their house survived, that doesn’t mean they have utilities (or can afford to pay the thousand dollar bills the government has allowed Entergy to hammer us with so they can get out of the bankruptcy they hit before the storm). For those that want to return we’re doing everything we can to rebuild (once again a process you can’t fathom unless it’s your day to day reality) so they can come home. The SBL’s were a shame, but people are still starting businesses while the large corporations move to Houston (because it’s safer?). You stand from your distance looking in and telling us what the REAL problem is when the cold hard fact is, you’re not interested in our problems, you just want to exploit them, just like georgie does.

    Its statements like this which really gets our collective goat… “those who really need government assistance, ie. the unrich,” you constantly intimate that it’s only “poor black people” that are getting screwed; we’re all taking it here, but it doesn’t seem to garner as much anger when you talk about hard working middle class folks who can’t get a decent break.

    Here’s another beauty; “the ones who are probably most displeased with the current government at all levels and therefore most prone to “voting the bums out” as the old saying goes.” have you even paid a minutes attention to our local politics? Jefferson and Nagin both won re-election and it wasn’t from the “rich guy” vote.

    So why don’t you guys go back to freeing Tibet or saving the rainforest or whatever other monolithic cause you champion because it will never come home with you and let us try and put our lives back together without being told what our priorities are (oh yeah, we could use some teachers down here if your willing to put your money where your mouth is).

  16. ibfamous says:

    and mick, if you think you have a better grasp of the situation than me because you look at videos on youtube; then your a bigger moron than i thought.

  17. Alright. First thing you need to do is chill. You’re getting angry at people who want to know more and are working on what they got. You’re right, we can’t fathom what you’re going through because we have our own lives, which, as luck would have it, didn’t include getting steamrolled by one of the most disastrous hurricanes in recent history.

    As followers of the news, however, you can’t blame us for being interested. Here’s a quick hint, if you’re just blowing off steam to blow off steam, that’s fine, but less invective and more information will go much further in actually getting us on your side.

    Not that having us on your side is a big deal, I admit, but apparently having us not on your side angers you, so something’s going on there.

    Now, for your comment.

    I have a little insight to the possible mental health care crises that goes on there. Earlier this year I read and reviewed the book Category 5, and in the process have kept in touch with one of the co-authors whose speciality is exactly that, her part in writing the book dealing much with the mental health crises that occurs after the storm, particularly in your neck of the woods from where she hails, based on cultural tendancies.

    But on a local level, that’s about as far as my insight goes. Beyond that, all I can do is read what I can, and you can’t tell me not to read and write and be concerned because that’s what I do, and ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away.

    Further it is a political problem on all levels. As you yourself say, the infrastructure has been destroyed, is that for private interests to restore, or for government? YOu further go on to say that we’re trying to exploit the situation like “Georgie” which implies that you take issue with the politics surrounding the situation as well.

    Also, you say many of the displaced people are happier, but without a set stat, you can’t give me a number of people who would rather do as you yourself seem to be doing; staying where their home was, and rebuilding.

    The point to this post, and to several others that you’ll find on this site is simple, people that shouldn’t be getting the shaft, and apparently you can include yourself among that number, are getting the shaft while people that shouldn’t be getting a leg up, in our opinion, outside developers, are. Further, I still stand by Mick’s point as well.

    As I understand it, and fair warning, I’m totally cool with being called an idiot, people displaced are having a hard time getting back to where they are registered and would like to continue to call home. They are met with red tape that keeps them displaced, meanwhile, there seems a very opportunistic attempt to remove these people from voter rolls while they are probably more concerned with getting back on their feet.

    This doesn’t particularly strike me as being right, does it you? Because these people endured a horrible tragedy they should suffer not being able to vote as well?

    Is your anger inspired simply because we left “hard working middle class folks” out of the calculus (even though I included them in my last comment)?

    Look, you’re martyring yourself… We’re liberals, we’re pros at doing that. It’s best to leave it to those with the experience.

    Okay, perhaps that was a poor joke, but I’m still not seeing what you want.

    Seriously, I’d much rather do this amicably, but if you insist on not, we’ll never come to an accord. Again, probably not a big deal, but you seem up in arms over it, so it’s your choice really.

  18. See, now was the moron thing really necessary?

    Name calling typically gets you nowhere.

  19. ibfamous says:

    What do I want? Simple, I want you to quit using one socio-economic group as your weapon and ignoring another because they are not politically expedient. I’ve list just a fraction of our daily problems down here and WHERE someone gets to vote is the least of OUR problems. I’ll back that claim up by pointing out that we have two years of election cycles that prove that how we vote, heck, how anyone votes, doesn’t make much of a difference in Washington. Katrina, Iraq, healthcare, they don’t care what the American people think or feel because they know that as long as they keep the consequences from touching their home precinct then they’ll feel no consequences. That’s why I brought up Tibet, my god, there’s no one in America that’s more than a couple of days drive from Native Americans who are losing their culture if not living in squalor, but its easier to get passionate about Tibetans on the other side of the world because if it all goes bad, there’s no consequence to you, so its free outrage. Well that’s how we feel about people using us to score cheap political points, which is why I’m not too worried about where someone is registered to vote. Sorry, I’ve got more immediate things on my mind.

    and sorry mick, i’ve been mistaking you for steve – “I’m still trying to figure out where Bush and Rove hid the machine they used to cause hurricane Katrina so they could turn NO into a “white city.” – my sincerest apologies.

  20. Alright, I can feel the simmering down.

    Okay, first, I think it’s important to vote, and we can get in a huge debate about this, but the real basics of it is not nearly enough people are voting, and of those that are voting, not nearly enough are doing more than the most cursory bit of research to elect the leaders, at all levels of government, who legislate and execute. Let’s complicate that with rumors of voter purging and disenfranchizing, it’s a huge deal.

    Damn… I have to cut this short, but I promise to finish this within the next twenty four hours.

  21. Mick Arran says:

    and sorry mick, i’ve been mistaking you for steve

    EEEK! Apology accepted but PLEASE don’t ever do that again. You’re scaring me.

    Look, we’re coming from two entirely different places. The first thing you need to understand is what I said in my first response: This is a blogpost, not a book. You can’t cover everything at once. This was a specific piece about a specific event which you may not have at the top of your list but the demonstrations and lawsuits would suggest that some other people do. That’s not exploitation, that’s support.

    The second thing you need to understand is that I’m new here. I just started posting last week when Michael Tedesco asked me to fill in while he goes hang-gliding in the Himalayas. On my other blogs I have written extensively about the aftermath of Katrina from a lot of different angles for two solid years. Did you read the post on Rove I linked to? That was the latest in a long line on 3 different blogs, and the only posts that got any attention were the ones on Bush’s attempt to force LA Gov Blanco to declare martial law.

    I have done long pieces in the insurance companies’ scams, the suits against them, HUD’s refusal to release appropriated funds, the ACE’s bid-rigging, the foreign-aid money that Bush rejected, the lousy pumps the ACE insisted on, the intimidation of homeowners by insurance companies, the horrendous medical situation, the horrendous school situation, the money that Kyle mentioned going to upscale condos and stadiums, and on and on and on. And you know what?

    EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS IGNORED. No reaction. Nada. Zero. Zip. Including from you because you didn’t know anything about them. Neither did anyone else except a handful of readers of those blogs (2-400, roughly). Believe me, I can relate to your frustration.

    This piece was about one small chunk of what’s going on in a much bigger picture. Do I know it all? Hell, no. But I know what I can dig out of a reluctant news media and what I can get from the few people I know who are connected to people who live there. I write about almost everything I find, and I do it knowing it will probably be ignored.

    Now. I have a standing offer to anyone from NO, and I extend it to you now:

    Any time you want to write about what’s going on, I’ll open my blogs to you and publish it. Or you can write a letter to me – mick@mickarran.net – and I’ll use the information to write a piece about what you tell me. I’ll offer what you write to Michael and CFLF for a wider audience. I’ll give you full credit. You want to get the word out? Well, we want you to and we want to help. We want to know what’s going on, what the news media can’t be bothered to tell us. We want to know about the utilities that aren’t there and the fire stations that are closed and the jobs that don’t exist – and the blacks who are being disenfranchised or threatened with it. We want to know what you’re all up against and we want other people to know, that’s why we do this.

    So. The invitation is serious. Will you do it?

  22. Actually, at least here, I think that invitation is about to get even wider…

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