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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.

Originally posted to DailyKingFish on Wed May 09, 2007 at 01:43 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar ... (5+ / 0-)

    I could use the mojo ... today has been a trying day.

  •  Dardenne aside... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't quite think it's true that only the 9th Ward is uninhabitable.  Lakeview, Gentilly, major parts of New Orleans East, lots of Broadmoor, a part of Old Metairie, most of St. Bernard and other areas are pretty barron.  I guess it depends on your definition of uninhabitable, but I think your diary would be better served straight up.

    •  True, but I really wanted to highlight NOLA. (0+ / 0-)

      As that is what most folks think of when they think of Katrina.  

      And I did mention that there are 11 parishes affected by the bill.  

      •  Yes, but you contributing to the myths (0+ / 0-)

        The victims of Rita and Katrina were largely in proportion to the population.  Both blacks and whites, of various income levels suffered, and continue to suffer.

        These proposed satellite locations are a bad idea.  If someone wants to vote, they can absentee.  Many former residents are now registered in other states, and screening would be difficult.  Would all of these be considered provisional?  

        Labelling Dardenne a racist in so many words is low.  He is widely respected, even by those of different viewpoints, here in LA.  Say you don't like it, but a Secretary of State would rather not face this.  The prior acting SoS, a Democrat, didn't want to either.

        •  The satellite locations are in LOUISIANA. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And the prior acting SoS, Al Ater, came up with the satellite voting IDEA!  

          Where are you getting your information?!

          •  Correction ... (0+ / 0-)


            Louisiana's Secretary of State Al Ater says the election doesn't violate anyone's rights because people outside of Louisiana can still vote by absentee ballot.

            [But] to vote absentee, you'd have to apply for a ballot by mail, wait for the ballot to come back, then send the ballot back again by mail. Many Katrina survivors have been forced to move several times since the storm, which makes it impossible to guarantee that election materials will get to them. In addition, there are delays in mail service coming to and from New Orleans.[3] To make matters worse, the State already sent information about absentee voting which was inaccurate, incomplete, and confusing.[4] Experts agree that without satellite voting, participation will be down.

            To call the absentee voting process "fair and equal" is dishonest, and to give displaced New Orleanians--most of whom are Black--no other option amounts to a massive attack on their voting rights and their ability to participate in shaping the future of their city. With so much at stake, it's essential to ensure that all New Orleanians have equal access to voting rights, which means setting up satellite polling places in other states.

            That was for the mayoral race in '06.  This bill limits the satellites locations to Louisiana.  

          •  An absentee campaign would be better, IMO (0+ / 0-)

            I just see this as being a good idea in theory but bad in practice.  An active absentee campaign would help ensure people vote and their vote would count.  Something about people just showing up at a satellite, even if in LA, who now possess a Texas drivers license but claim to be residents of a city in LA just seems like a potential problem.

            •  The answer is simple ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Give the parish Registrar of Voters access to a database with all of New Orleans voters in it.  If anyone comes in early, simply mark them off the list.  This can be done safely and securely with all the technology we have today.

              An absentee campaign is flawed, because quite a few refugees have moved two, three, or four times!  And you can bet they haven't let the state know where they're at.  

        •  Prior SOS (0+ / 0-)

          did what he was suppose to do, he is a Democrat.  He stood on his head to open voting to ALL.  Dardenne is just following orders.  

  •  reccd for dailykingfish sig (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    how are you huey?

  •  Mr. Dardenne, the cleaners just called. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your white sheets are ready to be picked up and wear tonight!

    •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Randall Sherman

      this is CLEARLY a repub tactic of vote suppression targeted to limit MAINLY black votes

      •  Also poor whites ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randall Sherman

        Hurricane Rita devastated the western end of the state, and most of the folks still not home yet are poor white folks.  

        Hurricane Katrina also laid waste to St. Bernard Parish, and parishes surrounding NOLA, the ones still struggling are mostly African-American folks, as well as poor white folks.  

        Middle class white folks are struggling as well, mainly because All-State and other insurance companies have royally f'ed them over by denying that the hurricane caused the damage, it was the flooding.  

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