Jim Beam column: Don’t look for much change

Republicans who have strong control over the Louisiana Legislature  have succeeded in two of their redistricting goals. Their leadership appears to have high enough numbers in the House to override gubernatorial vetoes and it has strengthened GOP numbers in the Senate.


So why didn’t they get it? Democrat Dustin Granger of Lake Charles, an unsuccessful candidate for the state Senate in a local special election, explained how in a Feb. 6 letter in the American Press. Granger said the main strategies are “cracking” and “packing.”

Cracking is diluting the voting power of opposing party members by spreading them across many districts. Whites and Blacks are packed into districts rather than being spread out more equally in more districts. The districts just created give Whites big advantages in the House and Senate.

District 5 in the Ouachita Parish area, for example, has an 85.5 percent white population. It’s 84.7 percent in District 89 (St. Tammany Parish), 84.5 percent in District 64 (East Baton Rouge), 82.8 percent in District 74 (St. Tammany area), and 80.4 percent in District 77 (St. Tammany area).

District 100 in New Orleans has an 81.6 percent Black population. It’s 81.6 percent in District 100 (New Orleans), 80.0 percent in District 34 (Lake Charles), 77.9 percent in District 61 (Baton Rouge) and 76.8 in District 3 (Shreveport).

The packing of Blacks into fewer districts reduces their influence because they have the smaller population. Granger said that leaves many people feeling disenfranchised, a common theme of many Black residents, and also leads to voter apathy.