THE POLITICAL IMPACT OF HURRICANE KATRINA
According to a new report by FairVote - The Center for Voting and Democracy, massive displacement of Louisiana's population due to the hurricane will have wide-ranging effects in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.
Among the findings of the report were:
- Because of the shifting disparate population after Katrina, the size and demographic composition of many of Louisiana’s districts have drastically changed. African-American voters may no longer be able to elect a Representative of choice in the second district, resulting in minority under-representation.
- Both Democrat and Republican incumbents Reps. Melancon and Baker will face difficult re-election campaigns in November. The displacement of the Democratic population in the third district will probably result in a loss for Melancon.
- As Katrina displaced hundreds of thousands into the sixth district, that district now faces the doubling of constituent demands. The individual vote in the second district is about twice as strong as it was before the storm, but now a vote in the sixth district has about half its original strength.
"Democracy itself is now a disaster area." said FairVote's program director David Moon. "Unlike when the storm hit, if we act now, we'll have enough time to prepare a solution to the representation problems Louisiana faces."
FairVote prescribes some electoral solutions:
- Louisiana should elect its members under one-vote, “de facto” district system in affected areas. Reapportionment and redistricting would be ideal, but this would mean a premature and unreliable mid-decade census. Evacuees will likely still be mobile until the end of the decade.
- Repeal the ban on multi-member elections and set up a five-member super district. This would ensure that African Americans, Democrats and Republicans can elect candidates of their choice. Majority voters can control a majority of seats, but a substantial minority can win their fair share of representation.
For the full report, visit www.fairvote.org/katrina.