BATON ROUGE – A lawsuit filed June 13 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana seeks relief from what plaintiffs allege is the unfair packing of African American voters into one voting district and spreading them out among others to minimize black politicians' chances to hold office.
“As of 2010, nearly 32.6 percent of Louisiana’s population was African American,” the court brief said, “making Louisiana the state with the second highest percentage of African American population in the country.”
The suit, which pits several African American voters against acting Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, alleges that the Louisiana state legislature attempted to limit minority voting strength by packing African American voters into one “majority-minority” district and “cracking” them out among other voting districts as part of the 2011 Congressional Plan.
The plaintiffs said the state is using this alleged tactic instead of unifying the African American voters into a second major voting district. The suit contends the state sought to limit African American voting power by diluting it.
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“The packing of African American voters is most pronounced along the Mississippi River from Orleans Parish to East Baton Rouge Parish,” the lawsuit said. “In contrast, African American voters in other contiguous parishes, such as East and West Feliciana, St. Helena, Point Coupee, West Baton Rouge and Avoyelles, are dispersed among Congressional District 5 and 6 (northeastern and central parts of the state including Monroe and Alexandria).”
The brief said the black voter population is big enough and centralized enough to form a second black-majority congressional district.
The plaintiffs said given Louisiana’s long history of racial discrimination, the parceling out of black voters resulting in a dilution of African American voting strength, is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that the 2011 Congressional Plan violates the Voting Rights Act and that hearings be held to adopt a second black majority-minority district.