In A Flash

Audit gives Louisiana good marks on election integrity

By: - March 14, 2022 1:26 pm
Voters lined up at a polling precinct

Efforts from the U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to provide financial support to state and local election officials appear to have fallen short, with local officials saying they haven’t seen and can’t access the money. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A review of Louisiana’s election processes and procedures found that state officials follow practices to ensure the integrity of  outcomes when voters head to the polls. The Louisiana Legislative Auditor also provided some recommendations to the Louisiana Department of State on how it can further strengthen its election protocols in a report it released Monday.

The audit covered five main areas: the accuracy of the state’s voter registration list; whether absentee mail ballots were completed accurately; pre-election testing of voting machines; post-election verification of results; and how election complaints are handled.

The state verifies its voting list with state and national data as called for under state and federal law. The Legislative Auditor analyzed the list as of Aug. 18, 2021, and found all records had complete information in the first and last name fields. Only 192 out of 3.03 million records – or 0.0063% – did not include the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number or their driver’s license number as federal law requires. These voters might have submitted alternative proof of ID such as a utility bill, which federal law allows

The audit also found just 27 records on the voter registration list were duplicates, just 0.0009% of the total. State elections staff told auditors their records confirmed none of the 27 duplicates voted twice in any election, and that the 27 duplicate registrations were resolved.

The Louisiana Department of State fielded 501 election complaints between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, according to the audit. The largest share, 31%, involved campaign practices, which covers allegations ranging from improper placement of campaign signs to vote buying and voter intimidation. More than a quarter of complaints were about alleged fraud, such as voters who attempt to cast ballots or register to vote somewhere other than the parish or precinct where they live.

Out of the 501 complaints, the state’s Elections Compliance Unit forwarded 19 to authorities once they collected evidence that indicated criminal violations, the audit report said. At least four individuals involved with three of the complaints were prosecuted and convicted.

Among the recommendations from the Legislative Auditor was for elections officials to audit absentee ballots, which has become an increasingly popular option for voters in recent years. Other states, including Georgia and Maryland, require absentee audits.

Currently, Louisiana only recounts absentee ballots when they could make the difference in the outcome of an election. The Department of State agreed with this and other recommendations from auditors but said more time and manpower would be needed to conduct an audit of any paper ballots between a primary and general election.

The audit report comes as state officials and lawmakers evaluate Louisiana’s options for new voting machines. The current direct-recording electronic machines have been in use since the early 2000s and are likely to be replaced with a technology that provides a paper trail that can be audited.

Find the complete report from the Legislative Auditor here.


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Louisiana Illuminator
Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Illuminator is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization driven by its mission to cast light on how decisions are made in Baton Rouge and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians, particularly those who are poor or otherwise marginalized.