Estimates on population shifts in Louisiana and the political consequences

The New York Times ran the following story today on the dramatic population shifts in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Here is a direct quote from the story:

The numbers available now, however, are staggering. About 1.5 million people were initially evacuated from the damaged regions, roughly 1 million have applied for hurricane-related federal aid, 30,000 are in out-of-state shelters, 46,400 are in in-state shelters and 932 people have perished in the storms. Officials are unsure how many people are staying in hotels or with family and friends.

The story mainly focuses on the potential impact of these demographic shifts in the long run, with an eye to the 2010 census and the redistricting that will follow it in Louisiana. Of course, we’ve been focused more on the short-term impact of these population shifts, wondering whether the people who have left the heavily-damaged regions will be allowed to participate in upcoming elections, and how that participation will be administered. These estimates, though, do point how daunting the task of trying to administer any elections in the near future might be, say through widespread voting-by-mail.