Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings

Sec. of State Ardoin says he must focus on other work

By: - July 15, 2021 3:14 pm
Election Plan Kyle Ardoin

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, shown here on Aug. 20, 2020, was forced by his fellow Louisiana Republicans to end the open bidding process for the state’s voting machines. (Photo by Wes Muller/LA Illuminator).

After holding just two organizational meetings since it was founded this year in response to baseless allegations of voter fraud, the Louisiana Commission on Election Integrity and Voting was suspended on Thursday.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin made the announcement in a news release, thanking the members for their service and saying he needs to focus on other work. 

“I sincerely thank Chairman Quentin Dastugue and all members of this commission for their willingness to serve,” Ardoin said. “However, at this time, my staff and I must focus on supporting the important work of studying Louisiana’s next voting system as mandated by statute.”

Ardoin has been working for several years to find suitable replacements for the state’s outdated voting machines. 

The commission that Ardoin suspended was one he formed in April in an effort to appease some who alleged, without evidence, that Louisiana’s elections were fraudulent. Despite this, state lawmakers established their own version of a board that could investigate such allegations and provide oversight of the state’s procurement of new voting machines — the Louisiana Voting Systems Commission, formed by way of Senate Bill 221, which Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law this month as Act 480. 

The newer Voting Systems Commission is similarly established within the Louisiana Department of State “for the purpose of independently reviewing any proposals received by the secretary of state” for the sale of voting machines.

In a response to the Illuminator, the author of that bill, Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), said the first board “really never got off the ground” and “definitely didn’t do a deep dive to evaluate our state’s election processes.”

Nevertheless, Ardoin implied in his news release that he may reassemble his group at some point in the future. 

“I look forward to re-assembling the Commission on Election Integrity and Voting in the future following the issuance of the (Voting System Commission’s) report to the Governor, the Legislature and myself,” he said.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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