Dear Governor Edwards,
On behalf of the below signatories, we write to thank you for doing what is right and fair by vetoing the racially discriminatory and illegal Congressional map passed by the state legislature. By failing to pass maps that increase representation for Black Louisianians and other communities of color, the Legislature ignored the law, the Census numbers, and the will of thousands of community members who made their voices heard during the redistricting process. Your veto was necessary to ensure the Congressional districts in place for the next decade reflect Louisiana’s vibrant and diverse communities and uphold the principles of a fair, inclusive, and representative democracy.
The math is clear. According to the most recent Census, over the past 10 years, Louisiana’s Black population increased while the white population decreased. Though Louisiana’s voting population is 1/3 Black, the Congressional map passed by the Legislature only provided an opportunity for Black voters to elect their candidate of choice in one of the six districts. We are glad you vetoed a map that so severely underrepresents Louisiana’s Black population and other growing communities of color.
We remain disheartened that you did not take similar action to veto the maps passed for the State House of Representatives, State Senate, and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). These maps pack voters of color into limited districts in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Illegal maps should not become law, with or without your signature.
The State of Louisiana has an extensive and ongoing record of voting discrimination that has denied voters of color equal opportunity to participate in the political process. There is still work to be done, but your veto of the Congressional maps now gives the Legislature an opportunity to right their wrong and pass a new map that complies with federal law and principles of fairness.
The call for a second majority-Black Congressional district was the resounding message from community members at every phase of the redistricting process. Moreover, multiple recent polls show that a majority of Louisiana voters support increased representation for Louisiana’s 1/3 Black voter population.1 It is essential that Louisianians once again make their voices heard and demand their legislators sustain your veto and draw a fair map.
Black voters have been denied representation for too long. Each legislator must now stand on the right side of history and the law by ensuring the Congressional map that takes effect this year no longer denies Black voters equal opportunities to participate in the political process and elect the candidates of their choice in two districts. It is our hope that the Legislature does not vote to override your veto of the Congressional map, and that if any attempt is made, it is unsuccessful. We will continue to work to ensure that your veto is sustained and urge you to put the full weight and force of your office behind this effort as well.
1 See, e.g., Fair Districts Louisiana, New Redistricting Poll Finds Most Louisianans Want Equitable and Competitive Political Maps (Jan. 18, 2022), https://www.fairdistrictsla.org/poll-results (“58 percent of respondents think it’s important that Louisiana’s political maps reflect the state’s racial diversity”); Adam Daigle, Many Power Poll voters back effort for 2 minority Congressional districts, favor any formidable opponent against Clay Higgins, THE ADVOCATE (Feb. 25, 2022), https://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/news/business/article_538ebd78-95f5-11ec-98a8-e7ac438d635a.html (“Power Poll respondents to this month’s poll favor a second minority-majority district with 60% supporting it. Only 8% said no with 33% saying they had no opinion”).