SOS won’t release voter lists despite district judge’s rulings

Photo by Travis Gauthier

The gist: Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin may be in conflict with a recent court decision by refusing to release voter lists on new City Council districts until Aug. 1.

Get caught up, quickly. In late May, District Court Judge John Trahan dismissed a legal challenge that threw into question last year’s vote to create separate city and parish councils. Trahan found that the City-Parish Council acted within its authority on March 26 when it passed a reapportionment ordinance correcting discrepancies, what the judge called “clerical errors,” in voting precincts. A few weeks later, Trahan denied the secretary of state’s request for a suspensive appeal, which would have paused the effect of his decision while the appeals process plays out.

Lafayette attorney Gary McGoffin told The Advocate Ardoin has had the corrected council district descriptions since the May 8 trial. He believes the office may be in violation of Trahan’s rulings by refusing to release the lists.

“You have to act as though the council ordinance is the law of the land until the appeals court rules,” McGoffin said.

On the Moon Griffon Show Wednesday, however, Ardoin said the law doesn’t require him to release the lists until five days before qualifying, which is Aug. 6-8.

You can’t release a list you don’t have, Ardoin told Griffon. “And I’m not going to rush into releasing an inaccurate list, and then get in trouble for that.”

McGoffin was a call-in guest on Griffon’s show the following day to address what he calls “major erroneous statements” made by Ardoin about the charter litigation.

Why this matters: Voter lists are a key tool in campaigns, as they include critical information on voting patterns. Candidates can see from the maps who is in their district while canvassing neighborhoods, but they won’t know till they have the lists whether a specific constituent even bothers to vote.

About the Author

A founding editor of both The Independent and ABiz and senior editor at The Times of Acadiana in the 1990s, Leslie Turk has worked in the newspaper business in Lafayette for almost three decades. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and The Acadiana Advocate. Email her at leslie@thecurrentla.com.

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