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Louisiana GOP’s recent efforts are thinly veiled voter suppression


Louisiana GOP’s recent efforts are thinly veiled voter suppression

May 04, 2023 | 7:00 am ET
By Greg LaRose
Louisiana GOP’s recent efforts are thinly veiled voter suppression
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Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, it’s really no surprise Republicans are looking for ways to improve the odds at winning for an increasingly unelectable candidate. An increasingly prominent element in their strategy is voter suppression, and we’re already seeing it in action in Louisiana.

Recently announced state party efforts complement proposals advancing in the legislature that, when combined, effectively perpetuate the Big Lie of 2020 to continue to cast clouds of doubt over the election landscape.     

The Louisiana Republican Party sent out a statement Tuesday saying it will launch a “massive election integrity operation.” Right off the bat, you know the LA GOP is serious because it’s “massive.” What it will entail, we don’t know just yet. 

We do know Michael Whatley, the Republican National Committee’s general counsel, met with state party leaders to plan the effort, according to the LA GOP news release.   

“Governor John Bel Edwards and Democrats in the state of Louisiana vetoed attempts to improve election laws and created distrust in the election system,” Whatley said in the statement. “Democracy only works if every American has confidence in our election process. That is why we are here. Louisiana’s upcoming elections are pivotal to the direction of our country, and we will be on the frontlines to protect the vote of every Louisianan.”   

The GOP’s undertaking comes despite repeated assertions from the state’s Republican Secretary of State that Louisiana’s election system meets the highest standards of integrity. Yet Kyle Ardoin has also invited speculation upon his own elections staff based on his back-and-forth takes on election security. 

He was brought to tears in 2020 when his pandemic election plan was criticized. He even disbanded an Election Integrity Commission in 2021 after only two meetings. The panel was created to address unfounded allegations of voter fraud. 

Acknowledgement of the truth — and denouncing the Big Lie — would be a massive step that many in the Republican Party clearly aren’t ready to take.

But as chairman of the Voting Systems Commission last year, Ardoin allowed My Pillow’s Mike Lindell, perhaps the loudest voice among 2020 election deniers, to go unchallenged when he made several unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.

The secretary of state took part in discussions Tuesday before the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, whose members advanced multiple bills that involved elections. Some of those proposals are rooted in bogus election conspiracy.

House Bill 311, by Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, calls for voters to consider a constitutional amendment (yes, another one) to prohibit any foreign country or nongovernmental organization to pay for election goods or needs. 

“The goal of this bill is to prohibit the use of ‘Zuckerbucks,’ private money donated by left wing billionaires to public election officials and their chosen non-profit organizations, which seeks to influence elections by using this money for disguised Democrat get-out-the-vote operations,” the LA GOP said in a news release Wednesday about the approval of HB 311 in committee.

There’s no evidence to support far-right claims that the money from Mark and Chan Zuckerberg’s foundation favored any particular partisan voting effort. To the contrary, local and state officials around the country said it helped them facilitate elections through the COVID pandemic, regardless of voter party preference. 

House Bill 260, by Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia, requires any election guidance from the federal government to be cleared by the legislature. Such a measure might have hampered efforts to hold elections during the pandemic, plus it doesn’t necessarily account for the fact that Louisiana must follow federal election law. Guidance from Washington typically involves adherence to those statutes.

Together, these legislative actions and the state GOP’s massive “integrity operation” — it will be huge, probably the biggest, maybe the best “integrity operation” ever —  amount to thinly veiled attempts at voter suppression and purging. 

Far-right critics of Louisiana’s election system can’t have it both ways. If new laws are needed that bring intense scrutiny or an overhaul, then the veracity of elections that have created a GOP-dominated legislature also has to be called into question. So should shrinking minority representation at the state and congressional level.

But we get it, acknowledgement of the truth — and denouncing the Big Lie — would be a massive step that many in the Republican Party clearly aren’t ready to take.