Louisiana Legislature advances bill allowing legislative oversight in selecting new voting machines

Sen. Sharon Hewitt testified about her bill to allow legislative oversight in selecting new voting machines for the state (Photo by Sydney McGovern/LSU Manship School News Service)

Published: April 20, 2021

By: Sydney McGovern | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE– A bill to allow legislative oversight in selecting new voting machines advanced through the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday.

The bill, authored by Senator Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, establishes a Voting System Technology Commission to review voting systems and a proposal review commission to make recommendations to the secretary of state.

“It’s making sure that we have a very fair, open and transparent process as we go forward,” she said. “The statute, then, that I’m proposing is more about process and less about the answer because the idea is to have a process that works today as well as 20 years from now.”

Current law allows the secretary of state to establish rules relating to the preparation and use of voting systems. It also states that the secretary of state is responsible for the procurement of new voting systems. The proposed bill requires these duties to be carried out in coordination with the new commissions.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said he still had some questions about how exactly the process would work. But he promised to work with Hewitt, the committee chairwoman, on improving the legislation as it moves forward, and the committee’s action seemed to be a step toward settling an earlier disagreement about how the Legislature would oversee his efforts to buy new voting machines for the state.

The bill faced scrutiny at the hearing from various individuals who cited unproven claims about election security that circulated after the November presidential election. While they referred to Hewitt’s bill as a first step, they maintained that it did not go far enough.

A number of individuals testified in favor of paper ballots. Craig Schiro, a former engineer in the oil and gas industry, argued that the state can no longer rely on electronic voting systems.

“People want to be able to have trust in their vote, and that means that we have to have, as the document of record, a secure piece of paper that cannot be teleported to China, cannot be teleported outside of the United States of America,” he said.

Lenar Whitney, a member of the Louisiana delegation of the Republican National Committee, raised concerns of alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election and echoed the desire for paper ballots.

Read more at BR Proud

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