Louisiana’s state senators need to emulate their House counterparts and give voters the chance to declare constitutionally that the state’s elections aren’t for sale, and in timely fashion.
HB 311 by Republican state Rep. Blake Miguez would amend the Constitution to prohibit foreign governments or nongovernmental sources to fund elections. The prohibition somewhat vaguely exists in statute, but doesn’t apply to local elections, so passage of this by voters this fall would put it beyond statute’s reach and cover all elections.
The political left opposes such matters because its forces have had success in putting the thumb on the scale by outsourcing elections. Hundreds of millions of dollars from private sources, overwhelmingly funded by big-money donors who support leftist causes, problematically either disproportionately were directed towards election units that disproportionately vote for Democrats and/or funded outreach efforts of lower ballot security that invited unscrupulous behavior.
It and its media lapdogs disingenuously allege those bucks had no impact on electoral outcomes by observing states with greater Republican control received more money collectively. Of course, this ignores that the money didn’t go to states but to local governments and that when making comparisons at this level those jurisdictions saw substantially more money per voter go to those that voted for Democrats for president over the past two cycles, had substantially higher voter turnout in Democrat-held areas compared to 2016, and saw a vote swing towards Democrats compared to basically no movement in two-party vote for those that didn’t receive such funds.
In the past two years bills similar to this clarifying the matter in statute went far in the legislative process. One made it to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk, but predictably he vetoed it, and it wasn’t called up during the veto session even though original passage put it just a vote shy from a successful override in the House and it had enough in the Senate. Last year, it fell one senator short to obtain a supermajority for late consideration after Sen. Pres. Page Cortez slow-walked the bill through the chamber. While a two-thirds vote is required both for legislators to propose an amendment and to override vetoes, placing the matter in the Constitution both makes it more secure and is appropriate as it addresses a matter fundamental to an unbiased electoral system.
But what a difference an election year makes. This year, the matter garnered a House supermajority, even with three Republicans not voting who had favored the two earlier versions. That’s because four past Democrats – two of whom have switched to the GOP since – currently Democrat state Reps. Robby Carter and Mack Cormier and Republican state Reps. Jeremy LaCombe and Malinda White after voting against or conveniently absenting themselves from votes on the previous two versions suddenly took to voting in favor of the present version. Three want to run for reelection and White wants to pursue another political office.
The bill now lies with the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, and once again the clock is ticking. Last year, in the crush of last-day business a couple of GOP senators were absent, presumably working on other last-minute pieces of legislation, that allowed for the vote outcome bottling it up. Additionally, as a constitutional amendment, the bill may have to make another committee stop if the panel makes changes. Let’s hope chamber leaders don’t act dilatorily to sidetrack again a bill with strong majorities and demonstrated need to keep elections free and fair, joining nearly half of all other states by doing so.