SUNSHINE WEEK – REGISTRARS OF VOTERS
The Registrar of Voters is a legislatively created position in each parish primarily responsible for the registration of voters in the parish he serves and for the administration and enforcement of the laws and the rules and regulations of the secretary of state.
With all the talk over the last year regarding “election integrity”, a need to investigate and prosecute election fraud, as well as pushes for election reform – the Registrar of Voters offices seemed like a good place to probe. Almost universally our requests to each of the sixty-four parish Registrar of Voters offices were repelled by a standard form letter response. Registrar of Voters asserted an exception to the public records law. The letter reads: “Pursuant to La. R.S. 18:154, in order to obtain copies of a record in the office of the registrar of voters, a requestor must submit the written request of twenty-five qualified voters of the parish.” Most applied this exception to exclude copying “calendars”, “expenses” and list of employees.
The election code does however provide that “the records of each registrar are public records and at all times during office hours shall be open to inspection.”
Did you know?
There are over 250 exemptions in the Louisiana public records law.
REGISTRAR OF VOTERS: (LARS 18:51)
The following four requests were sent to each of the following Registrar of Voters:
- Individual appointment calendar of Registrar for the period of time of January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022, including but not limited to: traditional hard copy calendars and electronically stored information on cell phone(s), computer(s) and/or other electronic devices.
- Expenses reports or listing of expense reimbursements for Registrar for the period of time of January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022 OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE; any and all documents of expense reimbursements for Registrar for the period of time of January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022.
- List of voter registration cancellations [LARS 18:152(D)] occurring during the period of January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022 OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, if a list is unavailable, any and all documents of voter registration cancellations [LARS 18:152(D)] occurring during the period of January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022.
- List of all Deputy Registrars and other individuals employed by your office.
The Tax Assessors were then graded based on ten objective factors with each being worth one point, for a maximum score of ten points. Below is how the governing bodies ranked after the passage of at least thirty days from the date of the request.
Have the public bodies made information regarding how to request public records readily available and easy to find (i.e. website, etc.)?
- 33% 33%
Did the public bodies acknowledge the receipt of the public records request or provide any exemptions within three days?
- 85% 85%
Did the public bodies produce the records for inspection or provide an estimate of time reasonably necessary for production within five days of the request?
- 48% 48%
Did the public bodies accept the e-mailed requests without a demand that it be presented on a particular form, in a particular format or submitted in an alternative fashion?
- 90% 90%
Did the public bodies accept the request with demanding that a state issued identification card be provided?
- 95% 95%
Did the public bodies refrain from inquiring about the purpose of the requests?
- 100% 100%
Did the public bodies respond without employing an attorney to respond?
- 67% 67%
Were the records or information made available free of charge and/or without a request for a deposit?
- 89% 89%
Were the records or information made available by electronic means or did the custodian indicate the records could be copied using a portable scanning device?
- 74% 74%
Were the records provided by the public bodies responsive to the requests and of good quality?
- 68% 68%