Louisiana: Election deniers stop repeal of Louisiana’s burdensome voting machines law | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

Under renewed pressure from far-right election deniers, the Louisiana Legislature abandoned its attempt to repeal a 2021 law that has made the task of buying voting machines overly burdensome. House Bill 856, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Pineville, died just one step shy of final passage during the closing days of the 2024 legislative session after Johnson ended conference committee negotiations. The proposal would have repealed parts of a 2021 law that added multiple layers of bureaucracy to the Louisiana Department of State’s process to purchase new voting systems. The most significant parts of the bill were created through a late-stage amendment adopted on the Senate floor last week. In an interview Sunday, Johnson said he decided to sideline the bill after some constituents and other lawmakers expressed concerns with the “process” used to amend the bill into its final version. Read Article

Louisiana struggles to buy new voting machines after placating election deniers | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

A voting systems law the Louisiana Legislature enacted three years ago to placate right-wing election deniers has made the task of buying voting machines so burdensome that lawmakers are now repealing parts of it. House Bill 856, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Pineville, would repeal requirements that the secretary of state use the state’s Administrative Procedure Act to purchase new machines and contract with at least three independent experts to certify the machines, among other stipulations in the law. The bill, which is pending a final concurrence vote in the House, sailed through both chambers without opposition, though the most significant parts of the legislation were only recently added through an amendment adopted Thursday on the Senate floor. The proposal repeals parts of a statute lawmakers passed in 2021, Act 480, which created the Voting System Commission within the Louisiana Department of State. Comprised of government officials who serve without compensation, the commission is charged with analyzing any available voting systems and recommending a specific type to the secretary of state. Read Article

Louisiana Secretary of State to push for new voting machines | Richard Meek/Hammond Star

Louisiana Secretary of State Nancy Landry emphasizes the urgent need for new voting machines as the state’s current ones are over 30 years old and frequently require cannibalization for parts. Landry highlights the establishment of the Voting System Commission to evaluate suitable voting machine options, with 85 percent of voters preferring advanced touch screen technology with a paper record. She stresses the importance of incorporating a paper component for recounts and audits, aiming to modernize the state’s election infrastructure while ensuring a reliable backup system. Read Article

New Louisiana secretary of state will face task of replacing voting machines | Louisiana | Victor Skinner/The Center Square

Republican Nancy Landry, a three-term state representative and first assistant secretary of state since 2019, and Democratic Baton Rouge attorney Gwen Collins-Greenup, who’s making her third attempt at the position, will face off in a Nov. 18 runoff for the Louisiana secretary of state. Both candidates collected roughly 19.3% of the vote in the recent primary. The winner will oversee the transition to new voting machines mandated by law, aiming to address election security concerns stemming from the 2020 presidential election. Landry emphasizes the need for updated technology, focusing on a system with both efficiency and auditable paper trails, while Collins-Greenup agrees on the importance of machines with paper backups for auditability and security. Read Article

Louisiana: Election Conspiracies Loom Over Secretary of State Race | Cameron Joseph/Bolts

In Louisiana’s race for secretary of state, leading Republican candidates are grappling with calls from election conspiracists while seeking to appeal to GOP base voters who still believe in Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. While some contenders reject radical changes to the state’s voting system, others, like Brandon Trosclair, advocate for hand-counting elections, a proposal criticized by experts. Front-runners Nancy Landry and Clay Schexnayder have also hedged their responses to concerns of widespread fraud, indicating an attempt to balance their own state’s election system defense with broader worries about the 2020 elections. Read Article

Louisiana: Election conspiracy theory at root of proposed constitutional amendment | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill that fuels unsubstantiated election conspiracy theories involving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The bill, House Bill 311, prohibits the use of private donations for conducting elections and is presented to voters as a measure to prevent foreign corruption of parish election officials. The bill stems from the controversy surrounding grants provided by the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 elections. Attorney General Jeff Landry and other conservatives opposed the grants, alleging potential corruption. While Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed similar bills in the past, this proposal will bypass his desk and directly go to voters in the October 14 election. The new ballot language emphasizes foreign government or nongovernmental sources as potential funders of elections. Read Article

Louisiana Secretary of State Ardoin won’t seek reelection | Sara Cline/Associated Press

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who has overseen elections in the state for the last five years, announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection this year. In recent years, the Republican has faced increasing scrutiny while supervising an effort to replace Louisiana’s outdated voting machines, which do not produce paper ballots that are critical to ensuring election results are accurate. The ongoing process to buy new machines was thrust into the national spotlight after allegations of bid-rigging, voting machine companies claimed favoritism, and conspiracy theorists — who support former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and unsuccessfully urged Ardoin to ditch voting machines altogether and instead rely on hand-counted paper ballots — inserted themselves into the conversation.  “I hope that Louisianans of all political persuasions will stand against the pervasive lies that have eroded trust in our elections by using conspiracies so far-fetched that they belong in a work of fiction,” Ardoin said in a statement Tuesday. “The vast majority of Louisiana’s voters know that our elections are secure and accurate, and it is shameful and outright dangerous that a small minority of vocal individuals have chosen to denigrate the hard work of our election staff and spread unproven falsehoods.”

Full Article: Louisiana Secretary of State Ardoin won’t seek reelection | AP News

Louisiana: Conspiracies complicate voting machine debate | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

The need for Louisiana to replace its voting machines is not in dispute. They are badly outdated — deployed in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina struck — and do not produce paper ballots that are critical to ensuring election results are accurate. What to do about them is another story. The long-running drama includes previous allegations of bid-rigging, voting machine companies claiming favoritism and a secretary of state who is noncommittal about having a new system in place for the 2024 presidential election. Local election clerks also worry about the influence of conspiracy theorists who have peddled unfounded claims about voting equipment and have been welcomed into the debate over new machines. “It would be a travesty to let a minority of people who have little to no experience in election administration tear down an exceptional process that was painstakingly built over many, many years,” Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court Lynn Jones told state officials in a meeting this summer. “And for us to throw it out of the window because of unfounded theories is mind-boggling.” The uncertainty is playing out against a backdrop of attacks on the integrity of elections, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and promoted by a web of his allies and supporters. Some of those same supporters have been trying to convince election officials across the country that they should ditch machines in favor of paper ballots and hand-counts.

Full Article: Conspiracies complicate voting machine debate in Louisiana | AP News

Louisiana elections officials get first hands-on experience with potential new voting machines | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Elections officials Monday got their first hands-on experience with different types of devices voters will soon be using to cast ballots in the future instead of the 10,000 or so antiquated and hard to repair voting machines now used in Louisiana. Nine different vendors briefed Voting Commission members, clerks or court and registrars of voters. Some allowed them to hand mark ballots. Others had touch-screen computers that printed out the results on special paper. Both systems fed the paper ballots into scanners that counted the votes and kept the paper ballots in a secured vault. Both systems left a paper trail to allow elections commissioners in each parish to hand count ballots cast at the precincts on election day, if requested by the candidate or by a court, something can’t be done now, said Steve Raborn, the Registrar of Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish. The demonstrations will be open to the public Tuesday at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. On Wednesday the Voting System Commission will vote on what attributes they want to see on the machines.

Full Article: Louisiana elections officials get first hands-on experience with potential new voting machines | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Louisiana: Amid national controversy, commission to select new voting system | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Born from the widespread, if incorrect, fears that American elections are tainted, the Voting Systems Commission met five times over the past six months. The commission’s work could conclude Wednesday when it votes on recommendations to Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin on how to conduct Louisiana elections into the future. Many conservatives argued to the commission that they want to replace voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots that are counted by hand. And that method is among the four options to be considered Wednesday by the commission. But an abundance of problems attends that system, not the least of which is disenfranchising disabled voters without sight or use of their hands. “My preference at this point is ballot marking devices (that prints a paper receipt) that the voters can verify and then put into an electronic scanner that maintains an electronic copy of it and a paper copy for audit purposes and tabulates it, so that we can have election results on election night,” Ardoin said in an interview. “I prefer that option because it gives us an opportunity to provide for our disabled individuals to be able to vote as independently as possible.” It’s a method he sought in two failed proposals before controversy over the 2020 presidential election results turned the temperature high on the issue. Ardoin has no idea of how much that system would cost, even a ballpark figure. He suspects it’ll be very expensive. “That’s why the law says ‘recommendations to the secretary.’ I’ve got to be able to make responsible decisions. I might want a Porsche, but I might only be able to afford a mid-sized van,” Ardoin said.

Full Article: Amid national controversy, commission to select new voting system for Louisiana | State Politics | theadvocate.com

Lawmakers want more time to inspect options for Louisiana voting machines | Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator

A panel that’s evaluating Louisiana’s next choice for voting machine technology chose Wednesday to give itself more time to take a closer look at their options. A state law approved in 2021 calls for the state to move on from the electronic devices it has used since the early 2000s to a system that scans paper ballots, yet some on the panel say the current system only needs to updated. The Louisiana Voting System Commission has been holding meetings since November. Its agenda for Wednesday included making a recommendation on the state’s next voting system to Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who chairs the 13-member group that includes four state lawmakers. One of its members, Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, asked the commission to delay its recommendation until their next meeting until he and other legislators could “physically inspect” the ballot marking devices and scanners under consideration. Stefanski was tasked with leading redistricting efforts in the House of Representatives during an 18-day special special legislative session that ended Friday. He told members he had yet to see any of the options being considered. Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, who led redistricting in the Senate, also sits on the commission and sponsored the legislation that created it. Her legislation to pull together a voting system panel came after supporters of former President Donald Trump descended on a legislative committee last year and repeated Trump’s lie that the election was stolen.

Full Aerticle: Lawmakers want more time to inspect options for Louisiana voting machines – Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s Voting System Commission weighs paper ballot option | We Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s Voting System Commission met Wednesday to learn about new certification standards for voting machines, part of its assigned task to upgrade the state’s outdated equipment. A group of residents that has closely followed the commission — while peddling false information about the 2020 presidential election — continued to pressure the commission to reject voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The commission, which first convened in November, is a 13-member panel of state officials, legislators and citizens tasked with recommending a new voting system. Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) introduced the legislation that formed the commission last year after a group of angry residents descended on a committee meeting and, citing claims detailed in a YouTube video, repeated Donald Trump’s lie that the election was stolen. Hewitt said the legislation was simply an effort to insert transparency into the procurement process for any new machines. The new law requires, among other things, that Louisiana use a voting system that creates some kind of paper trail. That could include either a traditional hand-marked paper ballot system in which voters use a pencil to fill in a bubble next to a candidate’s name or a system of electronic machines that produce a paper receipt that voters can verify before casting their ballots. The commission heard Wednesday from two members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who explained the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0, a new set of certification standards that ensures voting machines meet updated cybersecurity and usability requirements. During the public comment portion of the meeting, several speakers urged the commissioners to ignore the federal guidelines.  The law that created the commission requires that “any voting system or system component procured or used in the state” be certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Lenar Whitney, a former one-term state representative from Houma, urged commissioners to remove machines from Louisiana’s elections entirely and instead adopt a hand-marked paper ballot system.

Full Article: Louisiana’s Voting System Commission weighs paper ballot option – Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

More than five years after Russian interference troubled the 2016 election, Louisiana still hasn’t transitioned to a paper ballot system for its voters. While the state legislature committed to switch to a paper-based system this year, it won’t be ready before the 2022 election and may not be ready in time for 2024, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) tells me. The big picture: That means the state is still falling short of what federal officials say is the single most important protection to secure elections against hacking from Russia or elsewhere. In at least the next election, its voters will cast ballots on machines called direct recording equipment that experts say make it far easier for hackers to change votes undetected. “We’re going to have a paper-based system. The point is we can’t rush into it without looking at all of the changes that need to be made … and educating voters, as well as educating elected officials,” Ardoin told me. “It’s a dramatic shift from where we are today.” Louisiana is an extreme case. It’s the only remaining state where all in-person voters cast ballots on paperless machines. But there are five other states where at least some voters are still casting ballots on such machines, according to a map maintained by the group Verified Voting. The state highlights the supreme difficulty of making even some of the most basic election security reforms, which can cost millions in taxpayer dollars and run into hot political tensions. Ardoin is a paper advocate. He’s been pressing since he first took office in 2018 to replace the state’s more than 10,000 paperless voting machines with a paper-based system. 

Full Article: Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system – The Washington Post

Louisiana: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will state replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | ark Ballard/The Advocate

Two recent national surveys show that a year after Donald Trump was defeated at the polls about two-thirds of his supporters and Republicans still believe the election was stolen. More troubling is that the drumbeat to discredit the 2020 results – despite absolutely no credible evidence of widespread fraud – has lowered confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections to the point that “three in ten Americans now believe the nation’s system is fundamentally unsound,” according to a Monmouth University, of New Jersey, survey of 811 Americans conducted Nov. 4-8 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. The Monmouth Poll found 73% of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden only won the 2020 election because of voting irregularities. “This constant onslaught of disinformation being targeted at Trump supporters and Republican voters is leading to the environment which we’re seeing right now,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that, along with GOP pollster Echelon Insights, of Virginia, surveyed 1,600 Americans Oct. 20-26 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. That poll found 65% of Republicans surveyed still say the votes in 2020 weren’t counted fairly.

Full Article: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will Louisiana replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | theadvocate.com

Louisiana lawmakers restart process to purchase voting machines | Rachel ipro/Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana started up a new process again for purchasing voting machines Wednesday, when it convened a new commission that will seek public input and vet the vendors applying for the state’s voting machine contract that could be worth $100 million. But Louisiana’s attempts to replace its outdated election machines hasn’t gone smoothly over the last few years. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s two attempts to replace machines failed due to public concern about voter fraud and Republican backlash. Lawmakers on the Voting System Commission stressed bipartisan support and transparency, saying the public would be informed at every step of selecting the state’s new voting systems. In 2018, a contract with the state’s current vendor Dominion Voting Systems, was voided due to an alleged mishandling of the bidding process. In March of this year, Ardoin reopened the bidding process, only to cancel again after he was accused of favoring Dominion. He was also criticized for not allowing more public discussion of the new system, according to the Associated Press. Ardoin has also had to navigate multiple conspiracy theories surrounding Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied the state’s current machines. But Ardoin said the newly-formed commission on voting system selection was making a fresh start. “This commission is not about the past but about our future, a future that provides Louisiana citizens with confidence that their vote will be accurately counted,” Ardoin said. “This is not a commission for political bias whether we are Republicans, Democrats or independents. This is a commission of elected leaders, election officials, community activists and professionals.”

Full Article: Louisiana lawmakers restart process to purchase voting machines – Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

After holding just two organizational meetings since it was founded this year in response to baseless allegations of voter fraud, the Louisiana Commission on Election Integrity and Voting was suspended on Thursday. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin made the announcement in a news release, thanking the members for their service and saying he needs to focus on other work. “I sincerely thank Chairman Quentin Dastugue and all members of this commission for their willingness to serve,” Ardoin said. “However, at this time, my staff and I must focus on supporting the important work of studying Louisiana’s next voting system as mandated by statute.” Ardoin has been working for several years to find suitable replacements for the state’s outdated voting machines. The commission that Ardoin suspended was one he formed in April in an effort to appease some who alleged, without evidence, that Louisiana’s elections were fraudulent. Despite this, state lawmakers established their own version of a board that could investigate such allegations and provide oversight of the state’s procurement of new voting machines — the Louisiana Voting Systems Commission, formed by way of Senate Bill 221, which Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law this month as Act 480.  The newer Voting Systems Commission is similarly established within the Louisiana Department of State “for the purpose of independently reviewing any proposals received by the secretary of state” for the sale of voting machines.

Full Article: Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings

Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone | Business Report

Gov. John Bel Edwards, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Republican lawmakers have agreed to rework Louisiana’s method for selecting its next voting system, but the new law isn’t likely to end disputes over what technology to select and how to do the shopping. The new process, worked out in a bill by Senate GOP leader Sharon Hewitt, adds layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, allows for more public input and requires an auditable paper trail for the voting system that can be chosen by Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. Two recent efforts from the secretary of state’s office to replace Louisiana’s 10,000-plus voting machines collapsed in controversy. That has left the state continuing to scavenge for parts to keep some machines, many of which are decades-old, up and running properly. Lawmakers agree that a new voting system is needed. But on election issues, there’s simply no way to satisfy everyone. The changes included in Hewitt’s legislation won’t address all the disparate criticisms from supporters of former President Donald Trump who believe his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Full Article: Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone 

Louisiana Governor signs bill moving state to paper-based elections | Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network

Governor Edwards signs legislation that will begin the process of shifting Louisiana from an electronic voting system to a paper-based system. Under a paper system, voters will receive a paper ballot that they can look at to make sure their vote was tabulated correctly, and that can be later audited by hand should the need arise. Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt said her bill will further strengthen the integrity of our elections. “What is great about a paper-based system is that it is auditable, it is secure, and it is significantly cheaper than our 30-year-old outdated machines,” said Hewitt. “With an electronic system you push a button to cast a vote and that is it, so there is no way at the end to audit the result.”

Full Article: Governor signs bill moving state to paper-based elections | louisianaradionetwork.com

Louisiana: Lawmakers rewrite rules for voting system search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

In the final minutes of their legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers agreed to change the way the state shops for voting systems, to include more public vetting and require an auditable paper trail, after two recent efforts to replace the state’s voting machines failed amid controversy. The House voted 69-34 Thursday for the heavily rewritten bill by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt, while the Senate backed it with a 27-10 vote. The proposal — which was negotiated with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin — heads to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards for consideration. The measure would add new layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, enact new requirements for the voting system that could be chosen and remove some decision-making from Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. “It shifts our state from an outdated electronic voting system and shifts to a paper-based voting system, which is more secure, easier to audit and cheaper, most likely,” said Hewitt, of Slidell. A newly created commission that includes lawmakers, elections experts, a cybersecurity expert and others would analyze and make recommendations about the type of voting system that should be bought or leased. The commission would have to hold open meetings, giving the general public more points to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Louisiana’s new voting system would have to produce a paper record, unlike the current decades-old machines used on Election Day. The legislation also would mandate that Louisiana’s voting system can’t connect to the internet, already the practice today in the secretary of state’s office.

Full Article: Lawmakers rewrite rules for Louisiana’s voting system search

Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Louisiana will be moving to elections using paper ballots under legislation finally approved about 90 minutes before the Legislature adjourned Thursday at 6 p.m. Senate Bill 221, by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, had been negotiated behind closed doors for about two weeks. Agreement came in the closing moments of the two-month-old legislative session. The result merged much of the language from two similar House-passed bills with the Senate measure. Current law requires Louisiana votes in machines. The legislation would now require a paper ballot that would be scanned to count. Louisiana’s current fleet of voting machines are aging and replacement parts aren’t easy to find. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has been trying to nail down a deal for new machines. Dominion Voting Systems Corp., an equipment and software company founded in Canada with headquarters in Denver, won the early phase of a bidding process that was successfully challenged as unfair by the losers. Work on a new bidding process is still ongoing. After the presidential election in November, Dominion became the target of widespread and specious rumors of being involved in the unproven claims of widespread fraud in presidential election. “The machines are outdated and it’s time to make change,” Hewitt said, adding that she had heard the worries of some voters voiced about voting machine vendors.

Full Article: Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin blasted Tuesday the number of resolutions being pursued by Republican legislators that hint at widespread voting irregularities are occurring in Louisiana elections. “I’m dead-dog tired of my staff and the clerks and the registrars and their staffs getting poked at,” Ardoin, a Republican, told the House & Governmental Affairs Committee during consideration of another legislative instrument concerning how elections are handled. House Concurrent Resolution 81 by Baton Rouge Republican Rick Edmonds directs the Legislative Auditor’s Office to review the State Department’s “policies, procedures, and practices and those of elections officials in this state regarding the integrity of elections.” Edmonds ran against Ardoin for secretary of state in November 2018 promising to root out election fraud. He came in fourth in the nine-candidate primary. Ardoin pointed out that his department’s performance already is scheduled to be reviewed and judged in 2022, as part of the legislative auditor’s routine analysis of every state agency. Edmonds’ resolution is superfluous.

Full Article: Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana would rework the way it shops for voting machines, under legislation that started moving forward Tuesday in the state Senate after two failed efforts to replace the state’s voting system ended in controversy. The proposal by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt would add new layers of legislative oversight, broaden the types of voting systems allowed and remove some decision-making from Louisiana’s secretary of state. The measure would create a commission to analyze and select the type of voting system that could be bought or leased, rather than the secretary of state. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Hewitt chairs, sent the bill to the full Senate for debate without objection. Hewitt, of Slidell, said her proposal would offer “a much more open, fair, transparent and accountable process for securing voting systems.” She said it would give the general public more points in the process to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Still, several people who repeated baseless allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election said Hewitt’s legislation, while well-intentioned, did not do enough to address their concerns. They said they wanted the bill to require paper ballots and more clear public input on the voting system selection.

Full Article: Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Louisiana News | US News

Louisiana: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit elections move forward | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

A Louisiana Senate panel on Tuesday backed a proposal to make a host of changes to how Louisiana buys new voting machines, after a recent effort to procure machines fell apart amid uproar from some voters who believe the 2020 election was rife with fraud. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the legislation by Chairwoman Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, after lengthy testimony from concerned citizens and a Republican official who clamored for “secure paper ballots” and trashed Dominion Voting Systems, the company that currently provides Louisiana’s voting machines. The committee also backed Senate Bill 220 by Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, to require the Louisiana legislative auditor to conduct a review of Louisiana’s election processes. The bills are among the first in a wave of election-related proposals that are expected to be heard during the legislative session that began last week. The push for voting changes come amid a national battle over efforts to tighten voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election. Hewitt’s Senate Bill 221 would set up several layers of oversight of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s effort to buy new voting machines. Under the measure, Ardoin would be required to use input from lawmakers to create a set of standards for new machines. It would also create a new commission to evaluate voting systems.

Full Article: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit Louisiana’s elections move forward | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana: No plans to revive voting machine search soon | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told lawmakers Thursday that he won’t soon restart Louisiana’s work to upgrade its voting technology, after two prior efforts to replace thousands of voting machines were scrapped amid controversy. Ardoin, the Republican who oversees Louisiana’s elections, shelved the latest voting machine replacement attempt in March after facing widespread complaints from election technology firms, the leader of a state Senate oversight committee and other Republicans. Lawmakers will consider changing the voting machine selection process in their upcoming legislative session. While Ardoin defended his agency’s handling of the contractor search, he told the House Appropriations Committee that he pulled back the bid solicitation process after consultation with House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez, both Republicans. “There is no intent to go out for another (request for proposals) anytime soon?” asked Appropriations Chairman Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, a Houma Republican, during a hearing on Ardoin’s budget for next year. “No,” Ardoin replied.

Full Article: No plans to revive Louisiana’s voting machine search soon

Louisiana Secretary of State withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Zach Parker/Ouachita Citizen

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin ditched his request for proposals to replace 10,000 aging electronic voting machines last week in the face of mounting protest about how his office was handling the request. In January, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asked the Office of State Procurement to issue a request for proposals, or RFP. The contract could be worth some $100 million. Since then, the state received complaints the RFP was drafted to favor Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver, Colorado voting machine vendor that became the target of national headlines alleging the company’s machines switched votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden last November. The company has denied the allegations. “I am in complete support of Secretary of State Ardoin’s decision to withdraw the current procurement process for new voting machines in Louisiana,” said state Senate President Page Cortez. “I believe this will bring an opportunity for full transparency on the purchasing process and election systems for all levels of government.” In a Feb. 26 letter to the state, a law firm representing Election Systems & Software LLC, a Omaha, Nebraska voting machine vendor, protested Ardoin’s RFP, suggesting only Dominion could meet the RFP’s demands. Hart InterCivic, an Austin, Texas election equipment vendor, objected to the RFP on Feb. 12. “This RFP seeks to replace the current system with a system virtually identical to the current system—a self-contained electronic voting system but adding only a specific type of paper backup,” stated the ES&S letter. “Dominion, the incumbent, is the only election system vendor that provides a product that fully meets all of the RFP criteria.

Full Article: Ardoin withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

Louisiana’s top elections official, Kyle Ardoin, has known for years the state needed to replace its fleet of aging voting machines. After a previous effort to do so in 2018 was rejected, he officially began the quest again in January, seeking a vendor for the potentially $100 million contract. But the new effort coincided with a wave of baseless allegations against one of the three bidders, Dominion Voting Systems, that took hold in right-wing media in the wake of Donald Trump’s election loss in November. At the same time, the two other companies seeking the work halted the process by filing official protests of the plan. And Republican state lawmakers, many of whom were inundated with calls from constituents demanding the state not hire Dominion, slowed the process down, seeking more oversight and public hearings on the contract. As pressure mounted, Ardoin faced the prospect of failing to get approval from the legislative budget committee whose OK he needed. Last week, he abandoned the effort.

Full Article: How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana: Trump conspiracy theories help stop plan to modernize voting equipment | David Hawkings/The Fulcrum

Louisiana’s unique standing as an election integrity risk, because it’s the only state without any paper trail for votes, is going to continue indefinitely. That’s because the top elections official on Wednesday called off his search to replace the state’s antiquated and entirely electronic fleet of 10,000 voting machines. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin acted amid a whipsaw of criticism. On one side are two election equipment manufacturers who filed formal complaints alleging the bidding process was tailored to favor the current vendor, Dominion Voting Systems. On the other side are influential fellow Republicans, furious that a $100 million contract might go to the firm that former President Donald Trump has put at the heart of his conspiracy theories about election rigging. Caught in the middle will be the state’s electorate, who will remain the only people in the country with no connection to the world of balloting best practices. Even as the threat of hacking raises significant worries about relying on computer chips and code to record and keep track of votes, that is all Louisiana has done for more than two decades. At least some jurisdictions in every other state either use paper ballots or keep a paper record of their tallies.

Full Article: Louisiana halts search for modernized voting equipment – The Fulcrum

Louisiana ends search for new voting machines amid criticism | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana’s secretary of state decided Wednesday to shelve his search for new voting machines after a barrage of complaints about the bid process from election technology companies, the head of a state Senate oversight committee and his fellow Republicans. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin sent a letter to Paula Tregre, Louisiana’s chief procurement officer, announcing his decision, asking her to remove the bid solicitation from a state website and requesting that she dismiss protests filed by two companies that wanted to seek the work. “I am withdrawing the (request for proposals) to spend the next few months seeking to undo the damage to voter confidence done by those who willfully spread misinformation and disinformation,” Ardoin said in a statement. In his pointed letter to Tregre and a follow-up statement, the Republican secretary of state accused Tregre of mishandling complaints from the vendors about the bid process, defended his search effort and suggested critics were using national concerns about election integrity to derail needed replacement voting machines. “We cannot let election administration become just another political football for politicians or voting machine vendors to kick around, without any understanding or concern for the consequences,” he said. Ardoin said he’ll redo the search in the future, though he gave no date for that plan. It’s the second time the secretary of state has jettisoned his effort to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines, many of which are decades old. Ardoin also ran into problems with a previous effort in 2018.

Full Article: Louisiana ends search for new voting machines amid criticism

Louisiana Voting Machine Search a Political Minefield | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

 If Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin needed another indication about the politically dicey nature of his work to replace Louisiana’s voting machines, he received a bracing and loud reminder during his luncheon speech to a group of Republican women. The women assembled at the Baton Rouge event interrupted his remarks, yelled questions, chastised his responses and accused the Republican elections chief of dodging their concerns. One woman shouted at him from a table, then moved closer to challenge him more directly, saying: “You work for us, and we are unhappy.” And those are people within Ardoin’s own party. “I hear you,” Ardoin repeatedly tried to tell the women. But it’s already clear Ardoin won’t be able to calm all the concerns. A dissatisfied leader of the Senate elections oversight committee Thursday pointedly urged Ardoin to shelve the bid process and redo it later. The secretary of state’s effort to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines with newer, updated technology comes amid intense national scrutiny about the way people vote and the way elections officials tally those ballots. Despite dozens of court rulings upholding the presidential election results, supporters of Donald Trump continue to assert baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in states the former president lost in November. They have targeted the current voting technology firm Louisiana uses, Dominion Voting Systems, for the unfounded claims. Some Republicans want to bar the company from being allowed to win another state contract — at odds with the public bid process.

Full Article: Analysis: La. Voting Machine Search a Political Minefield | Louisiana News | US News