Special elections are being abused

C.B. Forgotston
April 21, 2011 at 10:12 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Low voter turnout for elections plagues Louisiana and undermines the concept of a democratic form of government.
“Emergency elections” for local tax and bond elections are the greatest source of abuse of the democratic process in Louisiana.

The intent and spirit of the law is to promote higher voter turnout in elections by setting the dates and limiting the number of elections annually Louisiana.
However, there a “loophole” in the law that is large enough to drive a fleet of side-by-side Mack trucks through.

Law and Rules
LA R.S. 18:402(F)(7) authorizes “emergency elections to be held.
Title 71, Part III, Section V.I of the rules of the State Bond Commission (Which is authorized to set emergency election dates.) sets forth the criteria by which “emergency elections” are determined.
The rules, in part, read:

a. An emergency shall be a sudden, unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances which is beyond the control of the governing authority of the parish, municipality, or parish or city school board.

Note: The Rules of the State Bond Commission erroneously cite the law as 18:402(F)(6).

These “emergency elections” are INTENTIONALLY called when the taxing authorities believe there will be the LOWEST turnout of voters.

Emergency?
A good example is the election set by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board (“TPSB”) for Saturday, April 30. On the ballot will be a MASSIVE TAX INCREASE, the magnitude of which has never been seen in Louisiana.

The TPSB has been planning this election for over two years. Nothing of substance concerning the election has changed in all that time.

The election was nevertheless approved by the State Bond Commission.

It is not possible to determine the reasoning of the commission, but if the election for the TPSB is considered an “emergency” then the statutes and rules need amending.

Solution
If the leges and the Bond Commission truly support our democratic form of government in Louisiana, they will amend the statutes and rules to require that the “emergency” be “unforeseen.”

Words have never stopped crafty LA politicians from violating the intent and spirit of the law, but at least the insertion of this one word will create another small “speed bump” to help promote our democratic form of government.

Such an amendment to the statutes can be introduced and passed during the 2011 Regular Session. The rules of the Bond Commission can be changed at anytime whether the lege is in session or not.

Action needed
What remains to be seen if anyone with the authority to make the necessary changes to protect our democratic form of government will step up to the plate.

If you agree and want to help, contact your leges today.

Until this change is made, the abuse of the voters of Louisiana will continue unabated.




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