NEW ORLEANS — They’re invisible lines that have very visible impacts.
“From the roads that you drive on, to where the grocery store in your neighborhood is located,” said NAACP Defense Fund attorney Jared Evans.
Drawing the lines of Louisiana’s political representation was part of a redistricting forum at UNO in New Orleans Wednesday.
“Every single issue that you can think of all of it relates to how the maps are drawn,” said Evans.
The state legislature draws those maps every 10 years using Census data, like population. According to the 2020 Census, Louisiana’s growth rate is only 2.7%, lower compared to the rest of the country. North Louisiana lost population, while Southeast Louisiana gained.
“Areas like New Orleans, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, they’ve seen robust growth so there’s great opportunity for those areas to see new seats on the house and senate map,” said Evans.
Redistricting maps for the house, senate, public service commission, courts and congress are all on the table.
“This is a very important process that we have to go through,” said Republican state representative Clay Schexnayder, who represents District 81.
It’s the congressional maps that could see a major change. With a third of Louisiana’s population being black, organizations like the NAACP and citizens are pushing for a second minority congressional district.
“We want to ensure that black political participation is not decreased in the state of Louisiana,” said New Orleans resident Rita Weary.
It’s that political participation that has young adults, like 23-year-old Carlos Pollard Jr. getting involved.
“Folks like me who are in Gen Z, the next ten years we might be in our thirties or even our late twenties. These lines affect us because these are the lines for folks who may want to run for office one day,” said Pollard.
With public input from this statewide listening forum, lawmakers will have to put the puzzle together, but they’ll be doing it, having heard from people they represent.
“This whole process is about fairness. It’s about equity. It’s about public input,” said Evans.
There will be a special legislative session in February to address redistricting. Congressional and Public Service Commission districts must be in place by Fall elections. Legislative districts must be in place by the end of the year.