Friday, February 17, 2006
by Marsha Shuler
Louisiana lawmakers decided Thursday that New Orleans evacuees should get a chance to vote for their mayor and City Council in regional voting centers in Baton Rouge and other cities around the state.
The Senate gave final legislative approval on a 38-0 vote after a senator dropped an effort to kill the legislation.
It goes to Gov. Kathleen Blanco for signing into law.
Objections by state Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, prompted black lawmakers to allege that some wanted to deprive storm-displaced black residents of New Orleans of their hard-fought rights.
After a parade of senators — black and white — went to the microphone to plead for passage, Dardenne not only dropped his opposition but voted for the satellite voting plan.
Dardenne supported the bill when it was first heard by the Senate days ago. But when it came back for concurrence in changes the House made to it, Dardenne objected. “No one is being disenfranchised if we don’t pass this bill,” Dardenne said.
He said voters can vote by mail. He said the legislation may create problems for registrars outside Orleans Parish.
Also Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to liberalizing absentee voting for certain hurricane-displaced voters.
Under Senate Bill 50 by Jones, those who registered to vote between the 2004 presidential election and Hurricane Katrina could request an absentee mail ballot up until 4:30 p.m. the day before an election.
Under regular circumstances the request must be made up to 96 hours beforehand.
In addition, the mail ballot request would be good for a year — instead of for a specific election. The ballot could also be returned up until the 8 p.m. close of elections.
LPNS COMMENTARY: THIS GUY DARDENNE WANTS TO BE SECRETARY OF STATE?
HE'S FOR IT, HE'S TOTALLY AGAINST IT, HE'S FOR IT! WONDER WHAT HIS POSITION IS TODAY?