BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Blacks made up nearly two-thirds of the Democrats removed from Louisiana’s voter rolls because they hadn’t voted in at least two years.
State election officials tell The Advocate it’s a result of Hurricane Katrina’s displacement of people from heavily Democratic and Black New Orleans.
After the hurricane in 2005, the purges – legally required in even-numbered years –were delayed two years to give people a chance to move back.
Secretary of State’s spokesman Jacques Berry said the percentages of canceled voters generally mirror percentages of Black, White, Democratic and Republican voters before the purges.
He said New Orleans voters make up about 10 percent of statewide registration, but 38 percent of the voters canceled a week ago were from the city.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler said an unusually large number of voters was removed. He said that’s because a backlog built up since 2006, when the Legislature voted to suspend voter canvassing because of displaced Katrina voters.
Orleans Parish had 45,830 names removed, followed by Jefferson with 11,647; St. Tammany, 8,155; and East Baton Rouge, 7,276.
Before the purge, Blacks made up about 30.6 percent of Louisiana’s 2.94 million voters – and 48.9 percent of the registered Democrats.
According to voter statistics released Monday, Black voters made up 40.3 percent of the 121,826 names removed as inactive. And they were 62 percent of the Democrats removed from the rolls.
After the voter roll cleanup, Louisiana has 2.8 million registered voters.
East Baton Rouge now has the largest number – 266,652 – surpassing Jefferson in the second spot and Orleans in third.
Voters are placed on the inactive list when the Secretary of State’s Office is unable to verify their addresses or their mail is returned as undeliverable.
Those whose names have been removed can re-register.
Schedler said registrars of voters made “valiant attempts” to contact the voters prior to their names being excised.
Names must be removed if voters have not participated in any election from one congressional election through another congressional contest two years later.
“On one side we are obligated to do voter outreach and increase voter rolls, but we have to keep the voter rolls accurate,” Schedler said.