Two civil rights groups have joined forces to battle a 2017 trial court ruling that allows the State of Louisiana to deny voting rights to more than 70,000 of its residents. On June 13, The Advancement Project, a civil rights and racial justice program based in Washington D.C., announced their intention to file an appeal in the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit on behalf of the New Orleans-based non-profit organization Voice of the Experienced (VOTE). The appeal challenges a March 2017 decision by 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley in which he, apparently somewhat reluctantly, upheld current laws that prohibit ex-felons on probation or parole from voting.
Articles about voting issues in Louisiana.
Louisiana: Civil rights group appeals voting ban for 70,000 Louisiana felons on parole, probation | The Times-Picayune
The legal battle over the voting rights of more 70,000 Louisiana residents on probation or parole will continue as civil rights groups announced Tuesday (June 13) their intention to appeal a state court’s ruling denying ex-offenders that right. The Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington, D.C., filed notice with the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal of their intention to challenge a March 13 decision by 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley in Baton Rouge. Kelley rejected a 2016 lawsuit seeking to restore voting rights of people on probation or parole for felony crimes, saying that, while he believed it to be unfair, it is legal under the state constitution to deny convicted felons that right, according to the Associated Press.
Lawmakers in the state House overwhelmingly approved House Bill 272 on Wednesday (May 10) that makes it easier to recall an elected official from office. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, now moves to the Senate for further consideration. “My belief is that we need to enact this immediately and across the board,” Hollis said, in response to a question from Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, about delaying implementation if the bill becomes law. Following a debate that lasted about 10 minutes and an added amendment requiring recall organizers to state the reason for targeting an election official for removal, House members voted 70 to 27 in support of the bill.
Proposals to restore the voting rights of more than 70,000 Louisiana ex-felons on probation or parole got a chilly reaction from some state lawmakers Wednesday (April 26). The House Governmental Affairs Committee rejected one such proposal and persuaded a lawmaker to delay action on a similar bill until next week. Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, D-Baton Rouge, pulled her House Bill 229 from a vote after her colleagues expressed concern about giving the vote back to people who have been on parole or probation for five years. The law affects about 71,000 people, roughly 1.5 percent of the state’s population. Similar proposals have died before in the conservative Louisiana Legislature. Smith introduced the bill after supporters of restoring voting rights struck out in court last month, when a judge told them they would have to get the law changed if they want the prohibition lifted.
Proposals to restore the voting rights of more than 70,000 Louisiana ex-felons on probation or parole got a chilly reaction from some state lawmakers Wednesday. A House committee rejected one such proposal and convinced a lawmaker to delay action on a similar bill until next week. Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat, pulled her proposal from a vote after her colleagues expressed concern about giving the vote back to people who have been on parole or probation for five years. Similar proposals have died before in the conservative Louisiana Legislature.
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.”
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.”