Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler has blasted recent remarks from Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser about the state’s voting laws as being “irresponsible.” The News Star reported on Monday that Nungesser, a Republican who took office in January, told the Ouachita Parish Republican Women that he wants better Republican voter turnout, but he claimed that Democrats busing in voters during the state’s early voting period remains a hurdle. “They don’t have to bring them to their precinct,” the report quotes Nungesser as saying. “They bring them all to one place, and if they can’t find their name, they’re allowed to fill out a piece of paper and vote. And if the election is not contested, that vote will count. Now they have a whole week to bus people who have no idea why they’re going there but to pull a lever for someone.” The News Star story didn’t include a response from Schedler, who is also a Republican, but on Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office sent a news release criticizing Nungesser’s remarks as “nonsensical” and expressed personal offense.
“I was shocked to read (the News Star report), which included an irresponsible comment from the Lieutenant Governor throwing the state’s nationally recognized election process into question,” Schedler said in the statement. “I hesitate to even repeat the nonsensical statement which was, at a minimum uninformed, and quite possibly an insult to not only my office but also our hard-working clerks of court and registrars of voters who are our trusted partners for every election.”
Nungesser, in a comment to The Advocate later Tuesday, said his remarks had been taken out of context in the earlier report.
“I was referencing incidents during a local election after Hurricane Katrina,” Nungesser said. “I was not trying to discredit the Secretary of State or his staff’s handling of our elections in any way. I think Secretary Schedler does a great job.”