SADOW: Report Signals How Louisiana Can Improve Election Integrity

While it’s good to see Louisiana near the top of a list of states for a change, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, in this instance for election integrity.

The Heritage Foundation recently vetted the states on this issue, compiling a scorecard that reviewed 36 areas related to it and weighing these by importance, with the most importance at 6 points being photo identification for in-person voting. In aggregate, Louisiana scored 75/100, or seventh best.

This good relative placement prompted Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin to applaud his staff and the 64 registrar offices. But before he breaks his arm patting himself and others on the back, the real value of the exercise with the state coming up a quarter short lies in showing where Louisiana can improve, something he can lead along with legislators.

Most prominently, the state could prevent private parties from financing elections. Legislators have tried but ran into the veto of obstructor-in-chief Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Only Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s cautioning that accepting funds without legislative appropriation is illegal stands in the way of potential mischief from this source, but given as the state also has observed weaknesses in the state legislature not having standing to sue or changes to the state’s election laws via a court settlement not requiring the approval of the state legislature – other corrections Heritage recommends – it’s best to put it into law.

The state also lost points on nonuse – at least specified in statute – of some means to verify voter information. The single biggest deficiency came in failure to require use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program from the federal government that could prevent registration of non-citizens, although it does use jury information. Not included on the checklist but a matter worthy of attention for legislators is prohibiting local governments from allowing non-citizens to vote in their elections, as about a dozen east coast cities have permitted and few states outlaw.

A final broad area of shortcomings encompasses voter verification, such as the previously-noted extra scrutiny applied to absentee ballots and registrations that would include things like signature verification, investigating names and large numbers of people at the same address, and eternally-qualified absentee ballot receivers (the law properly allows that for people with disabilities, but then also includes any registrant age 65 or older, which tempts tampering especially in group settings). And, as noted before, the photo identification requirement has some significant exceptions that open up fraud possibilities.

These flaws highlighted by the report give ample notice to lawmakers of the kinds of legislation, or changes to administrative law, that would plug holes in the state’s election integrity. They should study this information and, regardless of Gov. Nyet’s opinions on these, pass measures of redress in 2022.

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