The redistricting plan adopted by the Livingston Parish Council is “blatantly in violation of the principle of equal representation for all voters of the parish,” a suit filed in federal court alleges.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction saying irreparable harm would occur if the Oct. 22 elections were conducted under the plan adopted by the council.
That gubernatorial primary election ballot includes all nine Livingston Parish Council seats.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court’s Middle District was served on a council representative Wednesday.
The council hired an experienced redistricting consultant “who presented a plan that would have placed all districts with a population range of less than 5 per cent of each other,” but the council rejected the plan, according to the suit brought by Robert Morgan, of Livingston Parish.
The council adopted a plan in which the numbers range widely from the ideal population of the districts. The adopted plan is “patently illegal because the disparity in population among the districts exceeds the maximum acceptable deviation, in violation of the one man, one vote principle under established law and accepted guidelines,” the suit states.
The plan that the council adopted includes districts with as many as 17,716 voters and as few as 11,170 voters, which is a 35 percent difference, the suit says.
“No extraordinary circumstances exist that would prevent council’s perfecting a plan that would provide for districts with population deviations of no more than 5 percent between the district with the highest and lowest populations,” Morgan says in the suit.
With qualifying for the election set for Sept. 6 through Sept. 9, “time is of the essence in resolving this matter,” he maintains.
The suit asks for “a permanent injunction forbidding its proceeding with an election using the district boundaries” set by the council’s plan.
The suit asks that the council be ordered “to enact a plan not inconsistent with existing law and established guidelines and provides for population equity among the districts as near as reasonably practicable.”
Even if the U.S. Department of Justice approved the council’s plan “out of hand” or didn’t object to the plan within 60 days, “the plan would remain illegal under the long-established principle that requires equal representation for all voters of the parish,” the suit states.
Council Chairman Randy Rushing could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The council’s attorney, Blayne Honeycutt, said redistricting is not within his area of expertise and he would defer to an expert on the subject.