Jurors pleased with ruling on redistricting - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Jurors pleased with ruling on redistricting

Cameron Police Jurors are pleased with the ruling from U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi who finds their redistricting plan valid.

Folks in Cameron always knew their parish was unique. And that's part of the reason the judge finds that though police jury districts are not ideal--as far as their population, the redistricting does not violate the equal protection clause of the constitution.

Cameron Parish is geographically the largest parish in the state spanning almost 2000 square miles yet it is the least populated state with less than 7000 people according to the 2010 census. After hurricanes Rita and Ike there are fewer people here. With so much water and marsh...travel through the parish is difficult-- and some communities are isolated from one another in remote areas. And that's why the police jury says uneven population in police jury districts is unavoidable. Attorney Cade Cole says they are pleased with Judge Minaldi's ruling upholding their redistricting plan. " It allows the elections to go forward as scheduled and specifically finds that the jury's redistricting plan complies with the constitution."

The plan had been taken to court by a citizen who argued population disparity dilutes the voting power of the more populated districts, yet the judge finds due to the population being unevenly distributed in the parish-- the disparity in numbers is unavoidable. Plus the judge agrees community boundaries should be respected. "I think the judge's opinion shows that crossing the ship channel creates travel difficulties particularly in the aftermath of a hurricane. The distance between communities in Cameron Parish is great with marsh and water separating many communities by 30 or 40 miles. It doesn't make sense to combine those."

As well there's evidence Cameron's participation in the census was poor in part because many people are apparently still living in temporary housing outside their communities. The judge has ordered the jury to go back after fall elections and see if the districts can be improved upon.

The judge says the matter will remain under the court's supervision to ensure adoption of the fairest reapportionment plan possible.

Cameron's redistricting plan has been pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice but Jeff Davis is still waiting on that.

Jeff Davis Police jury did not submit their plan to justice until July 19th. Registrar of Voters Lorraine Dees says the plan wasn't submitted sooner because they had not received data from a company that provides computer mapping for the jury.

Dees says she's optimistic the jury will still get pre-clearance by the august 29th deadline so that fall elections can be held on schedule.

Look for more on this story on later editions of KPLC 7News at 6.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved

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