Editorial: Schedler getting undeserved bum wrap

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is holding up his end of the bargain.

Schedler has been on a mission to make sure every eligible Louisiana resident is registered to vote.

So far, 85 percent of the state’s 3.4 million residents are.

But if you’re one of the 15 percent who hasn’t signed up, he’s looking for you.

“We want to know what the unregistered voter looks like and where they live,” Schedler said in a news release. “We have never

delved down into the details.”

To help him find those remaining hold-outs, Metairie-based GCR has been hired to map “hot pockets” on unregistered voters.

Using census and registration data, GCR has already discovered that 537,000 people aren’t registered. Of that number, 117,000

are black.

The initial findings show that 96 percent of black women eligible to vote are registered; followed by white females at 87

percent; white males at 81 percent; and black males at 78 percent.

“I think the perception is that the majority of that 500,000 is African American,” Scheduler said.

The data is proving otherwise.

In fact, Louisiana has one of the highest percentages of registered voters in the nation, according to the 2011 Census Bureau

Current Population Survey on Voting. Obviously, Schedler is doing what’s expected of him.

But the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP disagrees. The group filed a lawsuit claiming the state is not being aggressive

enough in pursuing voter registration in certain state agency settings.

The suit alleges that Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Motor Vehicles employees have failed on occasion

to ask Louisiana residents using DHH services or renewing their driver’s licenses whether they are eligible to vote.

Those oversights aren’t intentional. And Schedler can’t go to DHH or Motor Vehicles and force those agencies’ employees to

ask if a person is registered to vote. Neither can he fill out the registration card.

What he can do, he’s doing. His

office’s voter outreach effort covers all 64 parishes. His staff goes to

high schools to conduct

mock elections in an effort to promote voting for the next

generation. His office has hired a firm to find those unregistered

voter hot spots so he can target them directly.

Schedler is getting an undeserved bum wrap.


• •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.