From voting rights for former felons to how election resources are spread out across the state, people sounded off on how they think elections in Louisiana could be improved. They spoke before the Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which held its second meeting at the state capitol Wednesday. The panel’s goal is to collect input from across the state about barriers some people face to accessing the voting booth. That information will then be passed along to the federal commission, which will compile it with input from other states to create a national report. “If we’re going to be true to no taxation without representation, I think everybody in this country needs to be able to vote,” Norris Henderson told the panel. He’s the executive director of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), an organization founded and run by former prisoners.
One woman, a PhD student at LSU, says her research shows that in Louisiana, there are fewer polling locations and voting machines in both poorer and African American communities. “When you have fewer voting machines, you have longer wait times. People may see the lines and decide not to vote,” Jhacova Williams said.
Others, including a Democratic state senator, says laws stood in the way of voter turnout, including one blocking voting rights for those on probation. “To be able to participate as any other person would, it seems to be fair to me,” said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson.