Early Voting Sites Could Become Permanent, July Election Date To Be Abolished
by Ed Anderson - Times-Picayune (excerpt)
BATON ROUGE -- Early voting at satellite locations should be made permanent and used in all parishes if the secretary of state's office deems it is feasible, a House committee determined Wednesday.
Without objection, the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs approved and sent to the House floor House Bill 960 by Rep. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, to allow the secretary of state to choose non-traditional sites in all parishes to accommodate early voting. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said he would like to have "five or six" locations ready for the fall elections.
Dardenne also won initial passage of another element of his legislative package when the panel approved House Bill 790 by Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, to abolish the July election dates used by cities and parishes to pass tax or bond issues.
The bill would save local taxpayers about $1.6 million a year on the low-turnout races, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill. In 2006, lawmakers eliminated a January election date, also one that drew low turnouts.
Dardenne said the July elections have generated an average turnout of 10 percent during the last 10 years. He said even by killing the July dates, the state will have four election dates, two in the spring and two in the fall.
A lobbyist for the Louisiana Police Jury Association and the Louisiana Municipal Association, said doing away with the July elections will hurt cities and parishes that need approval of bond issues or tax renewals. "I don't know if the way to get people to vote is to take away an election," said police jury lobbyist Dan Garrett.