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February 6, 2006
After my talk, I had a chance to talk with the secretary of state of Louisiana, Al Ater, a Democrat. Here is how he said his state is handling the difficult question of how to conduct city elections in New Orleans. Under the authority of an existing state law, he recommended and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco agreed to postpone the New Orleans city election from February to April. This seems pretty straightforward and reasonable.
Then the question arises: Who is entitled to vote? Most pre-Katrina residents of New Orleans are unavoidably outside the city. Yet many intend to return. In election law, residency is a matter not just of physical presence but of intention: I may be outside the District of Columbia on Election Day (as I was in 2004, so that I could be at Fox News headquarters in New York), but if I consider myself a resident of D.C., have qualified as an eligible voter, and intend to return to live in the District, I can vote absentee. Which I did, uncontroversially.