Our View: Overheated Rhetoric Aside, Louisiana Election Scores High | Our views
The process of buying new voting machines in Louisiana has been mired in controversy for several years now, and unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud are still circulating in some corners, well over a year after courts across the countries have confirmed the validity of President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
But despite all the noise and the continued use of outdated machines, voters in Louisiana can be confident that elections in the state are safe and secure.
It is not one side or the other in the endless political debate that speaks. That’s the result of an independent performance audit by the state Legislative Auditor’s office, conducted at the request of Republican lawmakers who raised questions about the integrity of the ballot and released earlier this month.
The result was a mostly clean bill of health.
“The purpose of this audit was to determine whether existing controls related to election integrity are sufficient,” Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack wrote to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, and Senate Speaker Page Cortez. , R-Lafayette. “Overall, we found that the Louisiana Department of State (DOS) has procedures and practices in place to ensure election integrity.”
The audit noted that the Secretary of State’s office created a “cure” process in 2020 to help voters who vote by mail ensure their affidavits are complete. Mail-in voting was a popular option during the pandemic, and the healing process has led to fewer rejected mail-in ballots than in the past, according to the report.
Still, Waguespack urged lawmakers to clarify rules about how to handle missing information related to those ballots so that procedures don’t vary from parish to parish, as the audit found they do. sometimes do. We echo this concern and urge the Legislature to make the process for accepting or rejecting mail-in ballots transparent and consistent across the state.
Auditors also interviewed local court clerks and voter registrars, officials who conduct parish-level elections, to gauge their perceptions of the state’s electoral integrity. Most offered very high ratings, with 80% rating it “excellent” and 18% rating it “good”.
Nothing is perfect in life, and the report identified some statistically insignificant issues. Fewer than 200 of the 3 million registration records were missing either the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number or driver’s license number, and 27 duplicate records were found, all of which were corrected.
Waguespack also made some suggestions, which Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, agreed to implement. The office will now compare state voter rolls annually with out-of-state voter rolls and driver’s licenses, for example, and better categorize and track the few voter complaints it receives.
While Ardoin staff are already testing voting machines in advance and making sure the number of voters casting their ballot matches the total number of votes cast, Waguespack suggested standardizing pre-election testing so that it doesn’t vary. not according to parish, and noted that state law requires any new votes. machines to allow voter-verifiable paper records.
In the meantime, Ardoin said he was updating policies and procedures “to ensure voter confidence.”
That’s always good to hear, but it shouldn’t distract from the audit’s end result: Despite the overheated national rhetoric, Louisiana voters should already be confident.