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Blanco, Ater partially can undo hit to state's credibility

Relentless public pressure and, at present, three lawsuits may be forcing the hands of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Secretary of State Al Ater to hold New Orleans elections sooner rather than later. Doing so not only would uphold the spirit of Louisiana’s Constitution and democracy, but would provide a positive message for the a nation looking for reasons to feel it can trust the state with its resources to enable Louisiana to rebuild.

Infrastructural and cost concerns have been cited by Ater as his reasons for asking for postponement, granted by Blanco, but both Democrats have faced legitimate criticism over the validity of these excuses. They claim the regularly scheduled Feb. 4 date may be (not will be) too soon to ensure enough the presence of enough voting machines, poll commissioners, and absentee/early voting ballot administration, and that the money to be spent could be saved by combining it with a future statewide election.

But besides being questioned as illegal, the arguments for delay seem pretty spurious. Offers of assistance by other parishes, particularly next-door Jefferson which has enough infrastructure to match Orleans’, as well as the fact that a constable’s election is scheduled soon in St. Bernard Parish which has practically no electoral infrastructure has cast serious doubt on the argument that the machinery can not be put in place. Add to the fact that, given that New Orleans has wide swaths of unpopulated areas, that precinct polling locations can be combined, other past officials remained convinced the problems are made out to be bigger than they are, and, like it or not, not a lot of people are going to take advantage of pre-election day voting opportunities, and these reasons lose a lot of their luster.

Thus, increasingly it has appeared that motivations behind these Democrats, actions are one or both of Ater’s incompetence in being able to perform under these circumstances and/or they are striving for partisan advantage in the delay, theorizing that Democrats running will have differentially more access to votes and campaign resources than Republicans the longer elections are delayed. Continued speculation that Ater soon will assume duties as the new head of the Louisiana Democrats has fueled the credibility of this charge.

Both Blanco and Ater have another good reason to have as little delay as possible (while having some lag to save face). As the state’s organization in charge of formulating recovery strategies and actions recently noted image problems plague the state in its quest to receive gifts from the American people for rebuilding. Certainly yet another discouragement to federal government assistance would be the willingness of Louisiana governmental elites to twist its laws out of shape in order to justify a partisan political maneuver such as election postponement.

Hopefully as soon as today Ater and Blanco will set the New Orleans elections for early April, with any general election perhaps on the day recently set aside for statewide referenda consideration (or perhaps slightly later if there actually is some kind of genuine infrastructural problem with Orleans Parish voting, given the New Orleans charter specifies a May 1 date for terms in offices to begin.) Anything less would send yet another signal that Louisiana is not serious about doing the things necessary to make it a good investment, and would invite more application of tough love to cause necessary changes to happen in this state.

1 comment:

wst... said...

we disagree that gov blanco and sec'y ater can undo in any way whatsoever the damage thats been done by their concerted effort to postpone nola elections indefinetly. its just too blatent...too brazen for anyone to get over.

when and if the governors order is reversed by the courts or recinded by her it will look like she had to back down. (which she will have to do regardless) what needs to be done is that the legislature should call itself into session in january and among other things impeach governor blanco because when she postponed nola elections indefinetly she voided the louisiana and the us constitutions

this precedent should not be allowed to stand and should be dealt with harshly to discourage any other governor from trying it. the legislature should immediately amend the voting law R.S.18:401.1 and set nola elections for early march with the runoff in early or mid april.