Friday, April 21, 2006


"Sway the vote"

The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Hundreds of displaced New Orleanians living in Atlanta will trek through the night and across four states to be among those casting their ballots in the Louisiana primary elections Saturday.

The evacuees' journey is the idea of two Atlanta-based pastors, including the head of a megachurch formerly based in The Crescent City that was forced to relocate after Hurricane Katrina. The Freedom Caravan will leave from historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some evacuees have already made the trip to New Orleans to vote early. Kelly Jones, who was one of about 16 people to travel on Monday with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, said this is a critical time in the history of her hometown.

"It probably has something to do with the plan of the city," Jones said.

"They know a lot of the people who can't afford to get around very much are the people who would sway the vote in a direction they don't want it," she said. "That happens all the time, where the disadvantaged are basically ignored."

Evacuees like Jones and those riding on buses to New Orleans Friday night are sure to be a rarity, with many not in a position to go back to the city to cast a ballot, said David Bositis, senior researcher with the Washington, D.C.-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

"It really is unclear what's going to happen," Bositis said.

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