NAACP Helps Evacuees Vote in Upcoming Elections

The NAACP is launching a "full court press" to help Hurricane Katrina evacuees who're still living outside Lousiana vote in the upcoming New Orleans city elections. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Thousands of Katrina evacuees all over the country are wondering if they'll be able to vote in the New Orleans mayoral primary next month. The answer is yes they can, and the NAACP has opened Voting Assistance Centers in Houston and a dozen other cities to help them. NAACP attorney Annette Lamoreaux says the Houston assistance center is on Fannin in midtown.

"They can come into the Voter Assistance Center and register to vote before March 22nd, and that will allow them to vote in the upcoming mayoral election."

Lamoreaux says people will be able to vote absentee at the center, or register and vote early in New Orleans just before the election, or on election day, now set for April 22nd. The schedule of deadlines is complicated, and that's why the NAACP's national director has asked the Justice Department to delay the election, saying it's not possible to ensure a fair election in the short time remaining. Lamoreaux says she agrees.

"Particularly for those folks whose lives have been displaced, this is I think one of the first steps in getting back into the society in Louisiana and in New Orleans. But just because you don't live in New Orleans doesn't mean that you don't care about what happens there, and the right to vote is something that's very sacred."

Maida Asofsky with the American Civil Liberties Union says the US Government helps people vote all over the world, so helping its own citizens vote here at home is the least the government can do.

"If the United States can jump through hoops to get the Palestinian people to vote, and the Iraqi people to vote, they ought to be able to help the people of New Orleans, whether they are displaced or not, to vote in this election."

The NAACP Voting Assistance Center is at 4205 Fannin across from the Sears store in midtown. There's more information about the center on the website KUHF dot ORG. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.