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Ater keeps proving he's not serious about timely elections

Secretary of State Al Ater has given Louisiana yet another demonstration that he remains unserious about trying to follow the letter and spirit of the law in performing his electoral duties.

Having made largely spurious excuses for not holding New Orleans city elections on time, he’s now falling back on an old one, blaming the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not providing enough information about displaced electors. Ater now wants to file a lawsuit against the federal government to get the information.

But what federal law has been violated here? Such an action would be totally frivolous and masks Ater’s real reason, his insistence that a holdup to having the elections is an inability to contact displaced voters. By continuing to assert this is an issue, he can continue to try to justify putting off the election as long as possible. Since he is rumored to be the next head of the state’s Democrats, Ater possibly wants to delay elections as long as possible because Democrats disproportionately fled New Orleans and the longer elections are put off, the more of them can trickle back in (of those who do return) to the benefit of future Democrat candidates.

By dogmatically sticking to this position, Ater demonstrates that he doesn’t even know how to perform his own job. Nothing in the Louisiana Constitution or its statutes mandates that he must contact voters out of their parishes of residences. RS 18:401.2 clearly says all the state is obligated to do is to notify voters of changed polling places by placing notice at the previous polling place. RS 18:1308A(2)(c) says the secretary of state “shall take all actions reasonably necessary to allow persons residing outside the continental boundaries … to vote … during a period of declared emergency,” but obviously does not make what Ater is contemplating required. RS 18:1306 goes into great detail about how to prepare and deliver early/absentee ballots, but does not mandate that they be solicited as Ater plans.

Surely Ater also knows that the U.S. Department of Justice is not going to consider any lack of information sent out to displaced voters as a voting rights violation. After all, Louisiana never has sent out any information before to voters outside their parishes for absentee/early voting and it never has been considered a violation, so this argument also lacks credibility.

Hopefully, Attorney General Charles Foti (even if connected by marriage to powerful Democrats the Landrieus) will not waste the taxpayers’ dollars with this naked attempt to obstruct elections. As well, hopefully Ater will realize that the people aren’t buying this stuff and that he drops it (or maybe decisions in any of the three lawsuits filed against him for his obstructionism may force this). If not for Louisianans, at least for the federal government’s sake; even an ex-Secretary of State, ex-jailbird realizes that the only voting rights denial the federal government will perceive is Ater’s thwarting the integrity of elections by thumbing his nose at the concept of following election law.

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