Motivated by recent failures to recall Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni and former St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan, a lawmaker says he’s filing a bill Thursday to reduce the threshold for petition signatures that must be collected to get a recall election on the ballot. State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, said he believes both houses of the Legislature will support his proposal when the session starts April 10 and will support the need to ease requirements under the state’s recall law, which he called the most onerous in the country. “I look at Louisiana compared to all the other states that allow for recalls and Louisiana’s threshold is by far the highest requirement and I certainly don’t want it to be the lowest and likewise I don’t want it to be easy, I just want it to be possible.”
Articles about voting issues in Louisiana.
More than 70,000 Louisiana residents on probation or parole for felony crimes will remain unable to vote, under a decision issued Monday by a reluctant Baton Rouge judge who said he disagreed with the prohibition in law but had to uphold it. State District Judge Tim Kelley called it unfair to keep thousands of people from voting if they’re working, paying taxes and following the law. But he said Louisiana’s constitution and a four-decades-old state law required him to continue denying the voting rights. “I don’t like this ruling. I don’t like it. It’s not fair,” Kelley said.
A state judge in Baton Rouge is slated to rule Monday on the legality of a four-decades-old Louisiana law that bars felons on probation and parole from voting. There are roughly 71,000 such persons in the state. Attorneys for eight individuals and a group called Voice of the Ex-Offender challenged the constitutionality of the 1976 law in a case that’s being heard by District Court Tim Kelley. In recently filed written arguments, lawyers for the plaintiffs and for the state Attorney General’s and Secretary of State’s offices have given Kelley plenty to chew on as he mulls his decision.
A report by the Louisiana secretary of state’s office on the use of a Jefferson Parish voting machine reserved for “VIPs” has been turned over to the district attorney’s office. The state office would not release the findings of its election compliance unit on Tuesday (Nov. 29), however, citing a Louisiana law that shields “records pertaining to pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated” until the case is closed. The machine had been kept in a private conference room at Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco’s office in Elmwood during the early voting period leading to the Nov. 8 elections. It was not available to the general public. DiMarco said he and some of his staff let certain people use it to avoid waiting in line.
Louisiana: Early voting machine most voters never saw was seized in Jefferson Parish. Here’s why … | The Advocate
Early voters often brave long lines in order to cast their ballots ahead of election day, but a select few at Jefferson Parish’s East Bank government headquarters managed to avoid the wait. They got to vote on a special machine inside a conference room in parish Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco’s office, skipping the line. Not any more. That perk vanished Wednesday after a staff member in DiMarco’s office let the attorney heading the campaign to recall embattled Parish President Mike Yenni use the machine on the first day of early voting this week, prompting the lawyer to report the situation to election officials. Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler on Wednesday seized both the machine and the book containing the signatures of voters who had cast ballots on it. Neither will be released until officials begin tabulating early votes on Nov. 8. Schedler said in a letter that his action was “necessary to preserve the transparency and integrity of early voting and to promote confidence within the general public regarding the voting process.”
The “right to vote” in America has been taking something of a licking recently. Last week Yahoo reported that the FBI was trying to find out how Internet hackers accessed hundreds of thousands of voter registration records in Illinois and Arizona. As if a further reminder was needed in the age of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, the unauthorized access to voter records underscored the vulnerability of the nation’s computer system and the impact that exposure could have on constitutional institutions, said Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler. He and other officers of the National Association of Secretaries of State on Aug. 15 discussed cyber security with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. Johnson offered assistance, perhaps making voting records part of the nation’s secured infrastructure.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler said his staff is already making preparations to set up mobile voting precincts where needed as well as processes to reach displaced voters even though the fall election is months away. Schedler and his communications director Meg Casper said they are beginning assessments of polling places and their viability following devastating flooding in southern Louisiana. Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins Oct. 25. “The good news is we’ve done this before,” said Schedler, referring to elections following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Louisiana: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser draws ire of Secretary of State Tom Schedler with statements about voting laws | State Politics | theadvocate.com
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.
Louisiana: Attorney General reviewing lawsuit over voting rights for ex-offenders | Louisiana Record
In the wake of a lawsuit filed against the state to restore voting rights to ex-offenders, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office said voting restrictions on those on parole or probation is constitutional. Voice of the Offender (VOTE) filed a lawsuit against the state, the governor, and the secretary of state on July 1 requesting that individuals on probation and parole be granted the right to vote. “Although we are not a named defendant in the case, our office is reviewing the case,” Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman with the AG’s office told the Louisiana Record. “We do believe that restrictions on voting rights are constitutional.”
A lawsuit filed Friday (July 1) in state court seeks to restore voting rights for some 70,000 Louisiana residents who are on probation or parole for felonies. The suit was filed in Baton Rouge by the group Voice of the Ex-Offender and several convicted felons who have been denied voting rights. The suit says state laws blocking people who are on parole or probation from voting violate the Louisiana Constitution. The 1974 constitution allows suspension of voting rights for people judicially declared mentally incompetent or those who are “under an order of imprisonment” for a felony. The lawsuit contends that the denial of voting rights does not extend to felons who have been released on parole or probation.