Published: May 20, 2021
By: Emily Wood, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–Three bills related to voting and elections passed through the House and Senate Governmental Affairs Committees on Wednesday.
Two of the bills–one by Rep. Frederick Jones, D-Bastrop, and the other by Sen. Louie Bernard, R-Natchitoches–would extend the early voting period and create additional provisions for a noncampaigning zone during the early voting periods.
The third, by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, would mandate the secretary of state to examine voting machines if requested as well as creating certification standards for new voting systems.
Kyle Ardoin, the Louisiana secretary of state, testified on behalf of all three bills.
Hewitt’s bill, Senate Bill 221, also would create the Voting System Commission–a group of 13 members that would research possible voting systems and give a report to Ardoin to guide him on which type of voting system to seek.
Members of the commission would include members appointed by the secretary of state and the governor as well as hired election experts.
SB221 also would create the Voting System Proposal Evaluation Committee that would test the recommended voting systems.
Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, expressed concerns that the election legislation being authored is in response to the Republican dismay over losing the 2021 presidential election.
“There is really nothing that we can look to in the past, that I am aware of, that would lead to this level of distrust in terms of Louisiana’s elections,” said Rep. Duplessis. “I am not aware of anything prior to the November election that brought into question this level of concern of election integrity.”
Hewitt stated that this would be the first time that constituents had the opportunity to express their concerns regarding election systems. She added that she feels like the public bid process for voting systems does not work as well as the process in the private industry.
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