LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE BLOCKS VOTE-BY-MAIL, FOR NOW


The state House and Governmental Affairs committee voted 9-5 yesterday to kill House Bill 419 which would have added Louisiana to the list of states moving toward vote-by-mail.

The nine legislators voting against the attempt are Republicans, and the five voting in favor are Democrats.

The bill was authored by Democrat Representative Mandie Landry of New Orleans.

Given the earlier, April 15th, defeat of a like bill in the State Senate, vote-by-mail in Louisiana is at least temporarily dead.

As some of us know very well, Louisiana has a long and rotten tradition of various kinds of vote buying. In our Northwest Louisiana neck of state woods, a 1978 vote buying scandal centered in Leesville was and remains infamous.

I am among those who know how that one looked and went, given my involvement in the 4th Congressional District campaign of Buddy Roemer.

In that race to replace retiring Congressman Joe Waggonner, Roemer finished third behind Leesville State Representative Buddy Leach and Jimmy Wilson of Vivian.

In the 1980 campaign for that same seat, Roemer won a run-off against Leach, 64% to 36%. In 1987, after serving three (two-year) terms in the U. S. House, Buddy Roemer was elected governor.

The vote-buying in the 1978 campaign was a version very popular in Louisiana for decades. In the run-up to an election, so-called “sample ballots” were printed and distributed by political committees attached to powerful public officials. The ballots include(d) pictures and voting machine numbers of favored candidates in various races on that election day.

Around here, at least, this process belonged for decades to the Democrat Party’s election-day apparatus.

In many places, notably including Vernon Parish / Leesville, cash was known to be passed out along with these sample ballots. In the related trial, Leach workers – but not Leach himself – were convicted.

Here is a paragraph from a related Justia article:

“Congressman Leach was elected to the House of Representatives by a narrow margin on November 7, 1978. His district, encompassing eight parishes in northwestern Louisiana, included Leesville, Leach’s home town. The undisputed evidence at trial showed that a number of persons from one precinct in Leesville were paid to vote for certain candidates, including Leach. The vote-buying scheme appears to have involved several persons, among them Ralph McRae, Jr., the Mayor of Leesville at the time; his father, Ralph McRae, Sr.; Robert Pynes, a Leesville merchant; and Willie Fisher, who allegedly made the actual arrangements to transport voters to the polls and pay them for their votes.”

https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/632/1337/218408/

Passing out $5.00 (or more) bills along with the sample ballots was only one tool in the vote buying box. What has been far more damaging to the process is money passed along to the elected officials who sponsor and run the subject political organizations.

Based on personal knowledge, those amounts can be staggering. A personal friend running statewide some years ago was told he would need to put up $1,000,000 for such “election day activities.” The person on point to explain the subject operation was a United States Senator.

There are many types of vote buying in Louisiana and elsewhere. While I cannot be certain what today’s Democrat Party officials intend, I am certain of this …

… it will make election fraud easier.

© 2020 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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