[JURIST] The first voters will cast their ballots Monday in New Orleans municipal elections [JURIST news archive] under Louisiana's displaced voters plan [Sec. of State materials], after a federal judge refused to delay elections late last month. Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] evacuees who are currently residing outside Louisiana will return by bus to cast early votes at ten polling stations for displaced residents around the state. Rights groups had urged the state [NAACP materials] to do more to accommodate displaced residents, a large number of whom are African American, and sued [JURIST report] to prevent the April 22 elections from going forward, arguing the state's plan is equivalent to an illegal poll tax [Wikipedia backgrounder], but were unable to win a favorable court ruling. The US Justice Department said Monday that federal observers will monitor early voting [press release] in two of the satellite locations.
The Justice Department last month approved the election plans [JURIST report] using its authority under the 1965 Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder]. The Louisiana Senate considered legislation that would have created satellite polling stations in other states, making it easier for displaced residents to cast ballots, but a Senate committee rejected the proposal [JURIST report], saying the state's current plan presented an adequate solution to the dispute. AP has more.