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Federal judge refuses to delay New Orleans elections

[JURIST] US District Judge Ivan Lemelle on Monday refused to order changes to New Orleans municipal elections [JURIST news archive] scheduled for April 22. Lemelle held a hearing [JURIST report] Monday morning to consider arguments from civil rights groups that the elections should be postponed due to the large numbers of African-American residents who have been displaced outside Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] and will therefore be unable to vote.

Rights groups have argued that the state's displaced voters plan [Sec. of State materials] does not do enough to accommodate hurricane victims, saying the plan is equivalent to an illegal poll tax [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Though Lemelle refused to postpone the elections, he did tell both sides that they should work together to resolve problems that could prevent displaced residents from voting, noting that "there is still room for improvement in that electoral process." AP has more.

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