westley at da-parish.com
Sat Dec 23 10:04:28 EST 2006
This is an issue I definitely know something about, since I had a lot to do
with that particular law. Back in 1996, at that time I was legislative
assistant to (then) State Rep. Benny Rousselle in Plaquemines Parish. If
you recall there were legitimate accusations of voter fraud in Orleans
Parish - minorities from other parishes and other states being bused in to
register to vote barely in time for the elections that year -especially in
the U.S. Senate race which was won by Mary Landrieu. And if you recall,
many believed the narrow margin Landrieu won by was less than the number of
voters believed to be fraudalent in Orleans parish.
I specifically recall one day over lunch Benny and I were discussing it and
I said if only we could come up with a way to prevent that or at least make
it more difficult to commit voter fraud. After discussing it further we
came up with the idea of making it state law that a person who owns a home
and claims a homestead exemption could only vote in the precinct where the
homestead exemption property is located, plus that would also become your
Benny had me draft the bill and we then handed it over to the attorney for
the House Committee on Governmental Affairs with Benny as the sole author at
that time. Of course you know the rest, the bill passed and became law.
Yes, we heard some gripes about it after it became law due to a few things
we didn't foresee in the implementation of the law, but I do believe the
good outweighed the bad and it went a long way to stop much of the voter
fraud taking place - especially in Orleans Parish.
But to answer your other question - what if you don't claim a homestead
exemption anywhere? Then you are allowed to claim domicilary in any
parish/precinct you want and register to vote there. But even then, you are
"supposed" to live at the address you give.
So, if you want to blame someone for that law, I have to fess up and take at
least 50% of the blame. But I still believe to be a good law until someone
can come up with a better idea that would hinder or stop voter fraud.
More information about the StBernard