[StBernard] Supreme Corut Ruling on District A Vote Challenge

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Dec 13 23:38:39 EST 2011

As one of the two individuals who directly had something to do with the
current voter residency law, I'll throw in my two cents and hopefully offer
some clarification. When I and my boss at the time, then State Rep. Benny
Rousselle, were discussing this idea, it was in lieu of the recent U.S.
Senate race where it became widely known how Mary Landrieu's campaign was
busing in loads of voters (minorities, with rare exception) so much to the
point was post-election analysts said it was enough to question the results
- and her victory. We knew something had to be done, but the trick was what
could we tie or "anchor" to a given voter to a particular domicile that even
the most liberal minded judge could not evade.

After much thinking - and checking with legislative attorneys - we came up
with the idea of anchoring one's homestead exemption (if they claimed one)
to where they voted. The law already stated, or at least implied, that a
person was to vote where they actually live, so latching the homestead
exemption to that seemed like a natural fit. Legally, it was sound and we
knew it could withstand any legal challenge - and it has! We never thought
it to be the perfect provision, but it was the best anyone could come up
with at the time - and it appears to be to this day. We're still open to
modifying it if anyone can come up with something better. But keep in mind
the purpose behind this law: it is to prevent voter fraud, it's not based
on some philosophical notion on who should or shouldn't be allowed to vote
in a given parish.

That being said, there were some other provisions I thought of at the time,
like what address is on your driver's license. Back in '97 when we were
contemplating this law, the legislative lawyers mentioned some loopholes
around the driver's license idea (aside from people being able to quickly
change it). But I believe we should revisit that today because of certain
things that have changed since 14 years ago. For instance, back then
insurance companies didn't care or were lenient when it came to your drivers
license having one address and your insured address being another - but
that's not the case today. Insurance providers make it very clear you could
be denied coverage in a claim if it's found out that your drivers license
does not match that of the address you gave them to base your coverage. The
State DMV's computer system today is far better than it was 14 years ago to
catch such things - and the DMV does notify insurance providers immediately
if they detect that after you're stopped for driving violation or involved
in an accident. So today, it's not so easy to have conflicting addresses -
besides, state insurance laws prohibit it.

True, there will also be some loopholes and ways to get around it, but that
will be the exception and not the standard. Since I will be working as his
District Director, I will get with State Rep. Ray Garofalo to take another
look at adding this provision, plus we will offer legislation to provide a
sunset clause to post-Katrina voter/candidate laws, if they do not already

John Scurich

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