Bills, resolution on voting and elections are put forward by committees
BATON ROUGE, La. – Seven bills and a House resolution on voting and elections were brought forward by the House and Senate committees on government affairs on Wednesday.
The resolution, sponsored by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, provides criteria for considering redistribution plans to delimit seats in Congress and the state legislature based on information from the 2020 census.
Representative John Stefanski, R-Crowley, speaking on behalf of Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, said a joint group that drafted the resolution used the redistribution rules from 10 years ago as a benchmark .
Criteria include compliance with the voting rights law, respect for recognized political boundaries and natural geography of the state, and maintaining equality of districts.
Representative Wilford Carter Sr., D-Lake Charles, expressed concern that racial demographics were not considered in the resolution. African Americans fear that although they make up 30% of the state’s population, they could realistically win only one of the seven seats in Congress based on the current distribution of districts.
But Stefanski pointed to the equal protection clause of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution included in the resolution.
“We’re going to follow the law, we’re going to follow the numbers and we’re going to draw the fairest maps possible,” said Stefanski, who chairs the House Government Affairs Committee, which will oversee the process.
The resolution was passed favorably without opposition and will move to the House floor.
Senate Bill 224, sponsored by Rep. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, would require a Louisiana driver’s license number or the last four digits of a social security number to be included on a ballot by mail.
Current absent ballots allow voters to add their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number, but it is not required.
The bill would allow a postal vote to be challenged if the information provided during the ballot does not match a voter registration data.
Stefanski expressed concern that placing too much personal information on the mail ballot for election workers to call them during the counting of the ballots would give someone ample opportunity to steal credentials.
“While we want to protect the identity, we also want to protect the ballot,” said Senator Cloud. She said digital information, rather than a signature that is required now, would be more foolproof.
Terry Landry Jr., director of policy for the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, spoke out against the bill. He cited a database of electoral fraud cases maintained by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC, which had not recorded any cases of mail-in ballot fraud in Louisiana in the past 20 years. last years.
“It just creates an undue burden on our citizens, and it will result in the denial of the right to vote for our constituents,” Landry said.
The bill was passed by Committee 7-6 and will now be heard in the House.
Senate Bill 220, also sponsored by Cloud, would require Louisiana’s legislative auditor to review electoral processes to prevent voter fraud.
Representative Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, noted that the election conversation follows a false national narrative of voter fraud.
He referred to an incident last June where the Secretary of State’s website was down for scheduled maintenance on National Voter Registration Day.
“I find it very problematic,” said Duplessis. “I will have the conversation, but I want to have full preservation.”
The bill was passed by committee without opposition and will now be heard in the House for debate.
Other bills passed through the House and Senate committees without objection on Tuesday included:
– Senate Bill n ° 63, which would clarify that the personal delivery of a postal ballot paper must take place in the office of an electoral registrar, in an advance polling place during the advance poll or in a mobile voter registration unit.
– Bill 138, which would oblige the registrars of voters to conduct an additional survey to identify voters who have moved and must update their voter registration addresses.
The bill would also require that a voter registration be canceled after a period of two regular federal general elections if the voter does not respond to the confirmation card. This would affect local elections rather than national elections.
– House Bill 329, which would allow all minors to accompany a parent or legal guardian in a voting machine to educate them on voting.
– House Bill 330, which would allow an increase in the number of polling commissioners in each constituency during the presidential preferably primary election to help resolve issues more quickly.
– Bill 388, which would extend the time available to a parish to prepare and check absentee mail and advance ballots before polling day to allow parishes to count ballots more quickly.
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