Gov. Edwards Vetoes Legislature’s Redistricting Map

Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Louisiana and Cuba. On the Cuban side, Manuel Fernando Pérez Guerra, general director of the National Port Authority of Cuba, signed, and Governor John Bel Edwards, on the North American side. Photo: Cubadebate, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Wednesday evening, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his veto of two proposed Congressional district maps drawn by Louisiana lawmakers on the grounds that the map did not include a second majority Black district.

“Today, after careful consideration, review, discussion with legislators, and consultation with voting rights experts, I have vetoed the proposed congressional map drawn by Louisiana’s Legislature because it does not include a second majority African American district, despite Black voters making up almost a third of Louisianans per the latest U.S. census data,” Edwards said.

“This map is simply not fair to the people of Louisiana and does not meet the work of drawing a map that ensures Black voices can be properly heard in the voting booth. It can be done, and it should be done.”

Edwards had previously said that he would veto any redistricting proposal that he deemed would disenfranchise Louisiana’s Black voters. He and others had called on the legislature to include a second majority Black district in the new maps.

In response to the veto, both Rep. Duplessis (D-New Orleans) and Sen. Cleo Fields (D-Baton Rouge) have reintroduced their redistricting proposals, both of which include a second majority Black district.

However, Senator Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), the creator of one of the two proposals sent to Gov. Edwards, hopes to have her map approved via a veto override vote.

Though Hewitt’s map (Senate Bill 5) passed with strong margins, it didn’t clear either the House or the Senate with the two-thirds majority necessary to overturn a gubernatorial veto. Further, it’s still unclear whether that veto override vote can take place during the Regular Legislative Session that begins on Monday.

However, while House Democratic Chair Sam Jenkins (D-Shreveport) believes there is a good probability the veto will be sustained, he doesn’t believe a trip back to the drawing board will result in a second majority-Black district.

“…I’m not optimistic a second chance will yield a second minority-majority district,” Jenkins told The Daily Advertiser. “I don’t think we’ll have finality until it’s decided in court.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell praised the veto in a statement, saying, “I applaud [Gov. Edwards’] veto of the Legislature’s Congressional redistricting plan. Black voters make up 1/3 of our state. The time is now for our Congressional districts to reflect that reality.”

“It’s what the people of our state deserve, and what the Voting Rights Act demands,” Cantrell continued.


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