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.
Articles about voting issues in Louisiana.
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.
Louisiana: Lawsuit seeks to restore voting rights for some 70,000 residents on probation or parole | Associated Press
A lawsuit filed Friday 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.
Louisiana: State increases private and independent voting options for voters with disabilities | American Press
People with disabilities will now find it easier to vote. On Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 614 into law. This legislation, authored by Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, will provide voters with disabilities the opportunity to vote privately and independently via absentee ballot for the first time. “I was honored to author this necessary legislation so that individuals with disabilities will finally gain the independence of filling out their own ballots. This not only enhances voting rights, but also helps reduce fraud,” said Moreno said in a news release. With the signing of this legislation, Louisiana will become one of the first states in the country to make its absentee ballot by mail process accessible to people with disabilities.
Louisiana: New voting laws block little fraud — but many elders, women, and minorities | The Louisiana Weekly
Much of the reporting about the voter-ID laws many states have passed in recent years has centered on how they often block access to the polls by lower-income minority and naturalized citizens. But a subtext has been the barring of many older people from their right to vote. “Voter ID laws disadvantaging older persons place a burden on the voting rights of those most likely to participate in the electoral process,” said Daniel Kohrman, a senior attorney with the AARP Foundation Litigation office in Washington, D.C. That’s because older citizens vote at greater percentages than younger people. A total of 33 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls this year. (West Virginia’s new law goes into effect in 2018). Of those, 17 states will have restrictive voter-identification laws on the books for the first time in a presidential election, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.