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Stuck on stupid XIII: Chicken Little Ater validates aid concerns

Did I miss Secretary of State Al Ater changing his name to Chicken Little? Ever since the hurricane disasters struck Louisiana, he has been running around predicting all sorts of dire consequences to not allowing people who have never had to prove positively their identification for voting to vote without doing so. And at each step of the process, his claims have been proven without merit.

But he’s at it again as the Legislature prepares to convene in the first special session of 2006. Even though every time Ater has gotten all agitated about the federal government stepping into the Louisiana election process not only hasn’t it, but it has acted on the state’s requests much faster than he predicted, yet now he again raises an alarm, this time fingering U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle as a culprit, saying Lemelle’s “federal court [will] take over the election” if the Legislature does not pass a short-term exemption to allow these “voters’ to cast ballots.

Ater continually has missed the point that to do this opens the system to fraudulent voting. Further, he bases his latest cry that the sky is falling on a “feeling” that Lemelle, in a hearing a couple of weeks ago where he threatened to set election dates, would rule that to not allow these unverified “voters” to cast ballots would be in violation of federal law. (Although, curiously Ater didn’t mention any of this at the time – it would seem odd that he would not report this to the media if it was such a big deal.)

Given his previous history of judicial activism on the matter, anything is possible with Lemelle here, but even if he went off the deep end and did what Ater argues, no doubt much cooler and sensible heads at the Fifth Circuit would quickly overturn such a decision. It’s great to have an accessible voting process, but not at the expense of the integrity of elections, and there’s little reason the judiciary would see it otherwise.

Ater frets that he “could see the headlines across America right now. They’ll say it’s another thing that Louisiana can’t handle on its own.” No, when the rest of the country sees the state’s chief election official, who is supposed to protect the integrity of the process, encouraging the state to do the opposite, and especially if the Legislature took his cue, it’ll roll its eyes at yet another Louisiana political shenanigan and become more firmly resolved than ever that the state simply cannot be entrusted with resources for its own recovery.

And then there’ll be more whining from state officials about how Louisiana is being shortchanged, etc., ad naseum. Are those in power in this state that stuck on stupid?

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