Election Day looms amid voter fraud investigationNov 22nd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News, Top Story
The upcoming election resumed with the early voting on November 5 -12 for the final Saturday vote on the 19. However, allegations have emerged that could call into question the validity of the election, even the primary votes cast back in October.
Allegations of voter fraud have come in the form of registered voters taking part in the St. Bernard election, in spite of the fact they have homestead exemptions in other parishes.
The shroud of uncertainty has lead to a possible investigation by the Secretary of State’s office.
“Over 1400 [people] domiciled in other parishes were voting in this parish,” Councilman Fred Everhardt reported.
Everhardt, who is involved in the runoff race with Guy McGinnis for Councilman-at-Large East, said that the failure to notice these voters in both the primary and now in early voting for the November 19 election puts the reliability of the vote at risk, and the decision on leadership in question.
“The people of this parish took a chance and came back,” Everhardt said. “[Other people] should not come in here, even if they work here, and cast a vote for the leaders of this parish.”
The Clerk of Court’s office declined to comment until further information on any investigation was made public.
The St. Bernard Registrar of Voters, lead by registrar Velma Bourg, said they are ready to cooperate with any coming investigation.
“I have every confidence in the world what we’re doing is correct,” Bourg said.
Bourg even referred to the voter registration card that every prospective voter is required to sign, which dictates that a person register in the parish of their exemption.
“The card reads on there—right under the name—’You must be addressed and registered where you’re homestead exemption is filed.’” Bourg quoted.
False statements on that card carry fines of anywhere from $1,000 – $5,000 or jail time.
“Any false statement [on that card] consitutes perjury,” Bourg said.
However, Louisiana’s state level law for displaced voters does allow for a registered voter to continue participating in their former parish’s elections, so long as that person does not register in another parish. Though the voter must provide updated mailing information and their new address.
Bourg said that some of the voters in question have been on the registrar of voters for decades.
Councilman-at-Large and Sheriff candidate Wayne Landry said that he has contacted an attorney to work with the Secretary of State’s Office.
“We filed in Baton Rouge today,” Landry said on November 15. “I’ve got my lawyers working with the Secretary of State on how to remedy the situation for this election.”
Chief Jimmy Pohlmann, also a candidate for Sheriff, responded to the potential appearance of impropriety that these votes could cast in an election with many close races, including his own.
“According to the news reports, the Secretary of State will conduct an investigation and we’ll wait to see those results.”
Any claims to be investigated by the Secretary of State office would have had to been filed with the Clerk of Court by close of business four days before the election. Word from the Secretary of State’s office regarding any official investigation is still pending.