Within the issue of voting rights, gerrymandering is becoming a huge problem in Republican-led states as we head into the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. Places like Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida have either tried, succeeded, or have met court challenges over their efforts to tip voting power in their favor. This phenomenon is occurring right now in Louisiana.
A lawsuit filed on Monday to the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge alleges new district maps for Louisiana House and Senate “illegally dilutes Black voting strength” and “embodies Louisiana’s legacy of discrimination,” according to the Associated Press.
The suit was filed on behalf of five Black voters, the nonprofit Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, and the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP by lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawyers also call for a deadline where the state has to draw new maps with more majority-Black districts. If this deadline is not met, the suit representatives want the court to order a plan that it believes would conform to the federal Voting Rights Act.
A special session of the Louisiana Legislature on March 10th drew new boundary lines for the state’s six-member congressional delegation. The congressional districts done by the Republican-dominated House and Senate excluded a second majority-Black district requested by voting rights activists. Maps for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Public Service Commission were also drawn in the session without increasing minority representation.
One critic, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, stated that any new maps should reflect how much the African American community has grown.
“I remain adamant that the maps should reflect the growth of the African American population in our state over the last 10 years, allowing for minority groups to have an opportunity at electing candidates of their own choosing, and I do have concerns that several of the maps do not fulfill that moral and legal requirement,” Edwards said.
Local activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, have called on the Governor to veto the maps.