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Stateside With Rosalea: The Big Empty?

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

The Big Empty?

On Tuesday, December 4, 2007, the Times-Picayune newspaper published the list of names that will be removed from the voter lists for Louisiana’s Congressional District 1, which includes the city of New Orleans, because they failed to return address confirmation cards mailed to them earlier this year by the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. Nearly a third of New Orleans’ voters are inactive, the paper’s subhead stated. The total numbers to be cleared off the rolls “across the metropolitan area and beyond” is in excess of 100,000.

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The city edition of the Times-Picayune listed the names of inactive voters in just Orleans Parish. The broadsheet newspaper needed six extra sections, totaling 136 pages, each page with eight columns of names and addresses in small type.

The public notice from the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters states that any voter on the inactive list who does not confirm their address and does not vote in any election from the date placed on the inactive status until the day after the second general election for federal office will be subject to cancellation of their registration. A Residential Address Confirmation is printed below that notice.

According to testimony given by Kristen Clarke, Co-director of the Political Participation Group of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, at an October meeting of the House Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections, Louisiana suspended its annual canvass of the rolls following Hurricane Katrina in light of the mass displacement of voters.

However, this spring, they decided to rely on change of address information given by the US Postal Service in the lead-up to the recent gubernatorial election. Because many people had redirected their mail to a place of business if their workplace was receiving mail but their home address was not, some voters turned up at their usual polling place to find they weren’t on the voter list there.



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