Cross posted over at Daily Kingfish
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, (R-Baton Rouge) in testimony to the House Government Affairs Committee on 2 May 2007 used a racist code word in support of his position to deny Louisianans displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the right to vote in Louisiana elections.
He was invited to give his opinion on Jalila Jefferson-Bullock's HB 619, which would extend the right of displaced persons to vote in Louisiana elections for the upcoming gubernatorial election this fall.
The code word used by Secretary Dardenne? Chaos.
UPDATE: Don't believe this? Then click here and go to 2 May 2007, and click on House Gov Affairs. It'll launch Real Player, and in the interest of saving you 3 hours, skip to 2:40, and watch from there.
Many younger folks won't remember this, as they weren't alive for it ... (I wasn't) ... but Richard Nixon, back in 1968, used the words "law and order" in campaign commercials while showing scenes of riots in urban areas. In other words, the commercial showed scenes of African-Americans rioting in the urban centers of America the summer after Dr. King was shot, and the voice-over said, Richard Nixon will restore law and order to America, or some variation of it. This was the beginning of the Southern Strategy for the Republicans, one which emphasized white power over people of color. And Secretary Dardenne is proudly following that script.
For Secretary Dardenne to use the word "chaos" in describing the use of satellite voting locations during the New Orleans Mayoral election in 2006 is ingenious at best, racist as hell at worst. Obviously, most of the displaced folks in New Orleans that haven't been able to return are African-American, as the only section of the city that is still largely uninhabitable is the 9th Ward, which includes the Lower 9th, which is still a ghost town today. And guess who most of the residents of the 9th Ward were? African-Americans.
During his testimony, he constantly changed his reasons for not being supportive of this bill ... First, it was that his office has no money to conduct early voting, then it was that there no one to run the effort, then it was that his office didn't have any voting machines, then it was that his office spent too much money on the voting machines, then it was that it took too much time to count ballots, then it was the whole process was chaos, and too difficult to implement, and too susceptible to fraud. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Of all those "reasons," the fraud one is most serious one. The way to combat such fraud is simple ... making sure that every Registrar of Voters office throughout the State of Louisiana has access to the voting records for the 11 Parishes affected by the bill, and OVERSIGHT. Each displaced person who comes forward to vote in a different parish has to sign a statement stating that they are the person they claim to be, and leave some current contact information. If it turns out that someone is committing fraud, guess what? By signing that statement, they are essentially saying, "If I am lying, you have the right to prosecute me for misrepresentation." And if someone commits fraud in such an instance, then, by all means, Mr. Dardenne, prosecute their lying behind.
For someone who makes no secret about his desire to be Governor, running an election is difficult?! Mr. Dardenne, running an election is a cakewalk compared to governing Louisiana. Perhaps you better stick to the Secretary of State's office for awhile. Or better yet, just go home when your term is up.
The bottom line is that Secretary Dardenne objects to having to spend some MONEY for early voting in satellite locations throughout Louisiana for voters who say they have been displaced from their parish of residence. We're not even talking about going to Atlanta, or Houston, or Denver, where quite a few of our citizens were displaced to. We're talking about putting a freaking voting machine in the Registrar of Voters offices throughout the state of LOUISIANA, in the event that a displaced New Orleanian, or a displaced resident of Cameron, shows up in another parish's Registrar of Voters office to vote in the gubernatorial election.
Guess what? Democracy ain't free. Over the last 204 years, Louisianans have shed their BLOOD for our right to vote, and are currently doing so in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our lovely Secretary of State is opposed to spending some MONEY to allow some of our citizens to exercise their right to vote.
Give him a call ... and let him know he's WRONG on this issue. 1-800-883-2805 ... and make him spend some more money while you're at it.