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April 02, 2006

A truly astonishing effort to find New Orleans' voters.

Snaking his Mercedes through a cluster of low-income rentals in a corner of Houston densely packed with Hurricane Katrina evacuees, Eusi Phillips stops at each complex and makes two deliveries: a stack of absentee voter forms for the front office, and fliers he tapes above washing machines urging tenants from New Orleans to cast their ballot in the April 22 election back home.

In the laundry rooms, Phillips hopes to find Louisiana's newest power bloc of voters.

"It's a matter of circling the wagons," said Phillips, 27, who has been canvassing Houston apartments each weekend and has built a voter information Web site. "In communities like the Lower Ninth Ward, how are they going to have a say in what happens there if we don't reach these people and get them to vote?"

It's heartening that people do actually care that the citizens of New Orleans be able to have a voice in their city's future. And care enough to help them have a city to go back to.

What's disheartening is the lack of success. Where are the people of New Orleans? Is their faith in "the system" that weak?

Or is it just because, as in so many elections across the country year after year, the one issue many of them really care about can't be put on a ballot? Maybe they just want to go home, and no one is running on a "come home, we miss you" platform?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:13 AM