(Updates to add comments from Edwards)
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Louisiana would retain a single majority-Black congressional district under a redistricting plan the Republican-led Legislature sent Friday to the governor, ignoring his wishes for a second district that reflected growth in the state’s Black population.
Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District has a Black voting-age population of 58%. If a second majority-Black district was added, that population would have dropped to 51% or 52% in both districts, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R) had said during initial debate.
“You would end up with two minority districts that potentially would not perform as a minority district. Doing that would cause the Legislature to not be honoring and meeting the requirements of the Voting Rights Act,” she said Friday on the Senate floor.
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Black lawmakers argued the maps defied Census data and the wishes of Louisiana’s residents.
“There’s no will, there’s no interest in fairness,” Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D) said.
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and the Louisiana House Democratic Caucus immediately asked Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) to veto the identical bills.
Democrats wanted lawmakers to create a second majority-Black district to reflect that about a third of the state’s population is now Black, according to the 2020 Census.
“I will closely review the new district maps Louisiana’s Legislature has passed before making a decision on how to proceed,” Edwards said in a statement Friday.
“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 added.
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