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Ater still doesn't get it, but he got Louisianans good

Secretary of State Al Ater is on his “Iblamefema” kick again, when in fact it was his own bad decisions that will cost Louisiana millions of dollars and do little more than politicize elections in the state.

Ater feels the extraordinary, in terms of effort, expense, and in lack of necessity, steps taken to entice voters to the polls for the New Orleans city elections last month and approaching this month, should be borne by the American taxpayer, not Louisianans. At the risk of being repetitive, the federal law is very clear that the federal government will not pay for any optional get-out-the-vote efforts that were both absurdly expensive (roughly $375 per extra ballot cast, while the usual expenses would have been in the neighborhood of $10 per vote cast) and competed with the existing, perfectly adequate, state processes for absentee/early voting. For those keeping count, the extra expenses of these elections are projected to be $6 million

But it’s obvious none of this gets through to Ater. Either he and his staff are unable to understand simple legal language, or he is being disingenuous, by continuing to repeat the outright false notion that the federal government ought to pay for these things and it is being discriminatory not to. That partisan undertones have been brought into the conflict belies his real agenda – to promote the efforts of the party whose top state job he coveted until being outmaneuvered by political rivals.

Recently, Ater has accepted plaudits for creating this horribly wasteful extra work for the election and making it work. Even though it was totally unnecessary, because it did go off well that has made it politically difficult to oppose measures like HB 1340 which today was reportedly favorably to the House of Representatives. This bill would make the satellite voter center concept permanent in cases of declared emergencies by the governor starting Apr. 30, 2007.

It takes little imagination to see how the process can become abused. Let’s say an election predicted to be close gets so divisive that some violent protests occur. If a governor thinks her party could gain politically from deploying this kind of voting, she could declare a state of emergency (which is very open-ended; practically any reason can be used). Worse, passage of this bill creates a slippery slope regarding election integrity. Doing something like this encourages those who are willing to compromise ballot security for political gain to ask that government do more, like loosen requirements for absentee voting without positive identification. It’s best not to invite wasteful use of resources and threats to election quality by supporting bills like this.

But Ater has shown support for this one, and other bills that more directly degrade elections, and still wants others to pay for the schemes he concocts. Again, this is repetitive, but it will be a good thing for the state to send this meddlesome waster of taxpayer dollars back to his home in Mississippi in five months.

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