Rupp to contest District A race resultsNov 28th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
The District A council seat was decided by 16 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s data. However, one candidate is contesting the results, citing once more the irregularities in voting by persons allegedly from outside the parish.
Incumbent Ray Lauga held on to his Council seat against opponent Peter Rupp by a vote of 986 to 970, respectively.
Now, Rupp is threatening a lawsuit, claiming that the early voting in that race had been swayed by persons voting for St. Bernard races who no longer live in St. Bernard and should not qualify to vote there.
Currently, Rupp said he is consulting with several individuals regarding legal representation.
“Most attorneys look at this case as suing another attorney, and it’s hard to find an attorney to take such a specialized case,” Rupp said.
According to a statement from Parish officials, there had been a hearing on election day, convened by the election board, to address such allegations—specifically those brought up during the week by Councilman and Sheriff candidate Wayne Landry.
Those challenges were dismissed by the board of election supervisors and state officials.
The difference for his race, Rupp said, is the number of votes his opponent won by is significantly less than the number of potential outside votes cast.
“The other races were lost by larger margins than those votes take exception to,” Rupp said.
Going forward, Rupp will essentially have to show that not only were certain people voting in the overall election, who lived outside the parish, but also that those individuals participated in the District A race.
“If we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose fair, and if we win, we’ll win fair,” Rupp said.
Rupp said that any suit would not be a statement about Lauga, but rather an attempt to properly represent all those voters who went out to support him and a critique of the process that exists in the parish.
RS 18:101 (F), is one of the statutes surrounding this debate, governing the legality of displaced voters still taking part in the elections of their former parish. This statute states:
“A person who has been involuntarily displaced from his place of residence by the effects of a gubernatorially declared state of emergency shall not be considered to have vacated his residence and shall be considered to be an actual bona fide resident of the state and parish in which he is registered to vote unless he has either established a new domicile or has changed his registration to an address outside the voting district.”
Rupp said that the final part of that statute, dictating newly established residence, is the key to his grievance, and said that this kind of error should have been caught by the registrar’s office, headed by Registrar Velma Bourg.
“I love [Bourg], but I don’t think she’s doing her job,” Rupp said.
When contacted previously about the claims being made of outside influence in the parish election, Bourg said she had reviewed the work being done by her office and asserted that the Registrar of voters, though not responsible for confirming homestead exemption status, always informs registrants of the legal ramifications when they file with her office.
“I have every confidence in the world what we’re doing is correct,” Bourg said.
Councilman Ray Lauga has said Rupp’s contesting the election is a essentially a stunt.
“It’s his right to challenge,” Lauga said. “I think, in the big picture, with all the false accusation he’s thrown out, I’ll be surprised if he even files the suit.”
“[The votes] were very close,” Lauga said. “I wish I had won by a greater margin, but there is no way to know if those votes [contested] were for him or me.”