Last Modified: Monday, October 14, 2013 2:02 PM
Social service offices statewide and in Calcasieu Parish are “almost maximizing their benefit” of providing eligible voters the opportunity to register, with 96.8 percent of black women and 89.9 percent of white women registered parishwide, according to Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
Schedler’s office is appealing a ruling by the state Supreme Court earlier this year that the state was not in compliance with federal voting registration laws. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the NAACP and a nonprofit advocacy group known as Project Vote. The lawsuit stated that Schedler’s office was not making sure residents who visited public assistance offices had the chance to register to vote, something the federal law requires.
Schedler said his office has been granted an oral argument for Dec. 2 at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He said he is appealing the decision because his office has no authority to regulate public assistance offices overseen by agencies like the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
“We’re saying that’s impractical,” he said. “I cannot barge in there and do what (the court) is telling me to do.”
Schedler said 84 percent of the eligible voters in Louisiana are registered, and Louisiana ranks third in the U.S. for voter registration. He said that percentage makes it difficult to find eligible voters who are not registered.
“When you reach that kind of percentage, you can’t obtain those sorts of historic numbers,” Schedler said.
Schedler said 2.9 million of the 3.4 million eligible voters statewide are registered. Of the 517,000 people who are not registered, about 25 percent are black. The remaining 75 percent are white, Hispanic or Asian.
Schedler said his office will issue a report in January on the unregistered voters by precinct. He said there were some areas that were “substantially low” because there were prisons or universities located in certain precincts.
“We can get much more scientific about it,” he said of the report.
Schedler said residents can use the GeauxVote mobile app to register to vote and find out other election-related information. He said seven states will visit Louisiana to learn more about the program and create their own versions.Online: www.geauxvote.com