Attorney General Gonzales Fails Civil Rights Test, Voters Displaced By Katrina

PFAW Foundation joins NAACP in protest of Justice Department

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced today that the Justice Department has granted pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act for procedures established by Louisiana officials for an April 22 election in New Orleans. People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas called the decision “one more injustice for the people of New Orleans, one more abdication of responsibility by the federal government.”

The DOJ go-ahead came despite calls by the NAACP, People For the American Way Foundation, and others for the Justice Department to force postponement of the election until systems could be put into place to protect the rights of New Orleans voters, including the thousands who are still living in other cities and states due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“The Voting Rights Act was designed to prevent disenfranchisement and protect minority voters from election procedures that unfairly dilute their votes,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. “If the election in New Orleans takes place as planned on April 22, thousands of voters, predominantly African Americans, are likely to be prevented from casting a vote and having it counted.”

Neas urged Louisiana legislators to use the special session beginning on March 27 to address serious problems before an election is held. He said the legislature should provide for satellite voting centers for voters outside of Louisiana. “If we can do it for Iraqi citizens,” Neas asked, “why not American citizens?

Neas said People For the American Way Foundation will be working with the NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and other allies in the Election Protection coalition from now until November to protect the rights of voters displaced by Hurricane Katrina as well as others at risk of disenfranchisement. People For the American Way Foundation, the NAACP, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are publicizing and staffing a voters’ hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Read the PFAWF Letter | Read the NAACP Letter

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