Once again, if you doubt that Louisiana will be competitive this fall, then do yourself a favor and start reading the news and analyzing the numbers. In today’s New York Times, we learn about the inherent problems of the massive voter registration drive currently occurring in Louisiana–a drive that is being propelled by the intensity around both Senator Barack Obama and Senator Mary Landrieu’s upcoming elections.

The effort is called Voting is Power, and, like Senator Obama’s Vote for Change initiative, it hopes to register hundreds of thousands of new voters. As of last week, Louisiana Democratic officials estimated that nearly 74,000 new voters have been registered as a result of Voting is Power, though, due to clerical errors and incomplete forms, that number could be reduced by as much as one-third. All told, however, this is still an incredible sign.

The massive voter registration drive has created concerns about ensuring every new voter is, indeed, eligible, which mainly means ensuring that forms have been properly filled out and voters are sufficiently educated to properly fill out forms.

It remains unclear whether election officials will be prepared to handle more registrations and the potential for overwhelming turnout on Election Day, Mr. Slater said. “Party politics is driving up registration at unusually high rates,” he said.

He added that it was too soon to tell how much of the gap between black and white registration had closed before the primaries, which produced record turnouts in many states.

Democratic officials said the Louisiana drive, which was called Voting is Power, had produced 74,000 applications by the time it concluded last week. Registrars in the four main parishes where the drive operated report numbers closer to 50,000, but there is no breakdown of how many were submitted to other parishes.

To be sure, local Republicans have already mocked the effort as “phony,” though the numbers in Louisiana seem to conform with national trends:

Michael Slater, the deputy director of Project Vote, said high numbers of incomplete applications were not unusual in such drives. He said as a rule of thumb, 35 percent of voter drive applications were new voters, 35 percent were duplicates or change of address, and 30 percent were incomplete.

We also learn, not surprisingly, that the majority of complaints are occurring in parishes with Republican registrars, some of whom have denied thousands of applicants from joining the rolls due to clerical errors (though, to be fair, there is evidence of obvious pranks and duplicate applications).

In Louisiana, the biggest complaints about the drive have come from Republican registrars in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport; East Baton Rouge Parish, which includes Baton Rouge; and Jefferson Parish, just outside New Orleans.

The registrar in Jefferson, Dennis A. DiMarco, said that about 35 percent of the 4,000 cards his office had sorted were invalid because they had no address, the applicant was already registered or was a felon, or the signature did not match one on file at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Another group of cards, he said, was missing information that the office hoped could be obtained by mail.

In Caddo, the registrar, Ernie Roberson, said his office had sorted 6,000 cards, of which only about 2,200 had enough information to be entered into the computer. Many of those, he said, had been kicked back because of nonexistent addresses or duplicate registration.

Although the Jefferson Parish registrar appears to be invalidating registrations due to incomplete forms, the registrar of Orleans Parish has a different experience:

In Orleans Parish the registrar, Sandra Wilson, said she had received more than 19,000 Voting Is Power applications and had problems with only about 400 of them. There are 4,000 to 5,000 that have not yet been sorted.

If the card is missing information but has a phone number, she said, “We immediately call that person and get what we need.”

5 thoughts

  1. Registering people who either don’t exist or can’t vote must be part of your strategy for Obama winning Louisiana. Perhaps I overlooked the cemetary precints that will put him over the top.





    What a fine strategy indeed. Just like Obama won the primary — if you don’t count people’s votes, he does just fine.

  2. By the way, voter registration problems are only “inherent” when you fraudulently make up people like George W. Bush who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in SHREVEPORT. That’s not an “inherent problem”. It’s an intential falsification and a felony.

    I’ve led multiple voter registration drives and never had any problems with the names that we turn in because we simple follow the directions on the voter registration forms.

  3. Jeremiah, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Obama’s primary victory was due, in any way, to fradulent voter registration forms, and if anything, this article helps to underscore the work being done by the Secretary of State and local parish registrars to ensure that fradulent forms (as if a George W. Bush registered on Pennsylvannia Avenue would ever be approved to vote in Louisiana) are properly discaded.

    When considering the analysis of national GOTV experts, our numbers actually don’t seem too out of proportion; the only thing disproportionate seems to be the vociferous cries of the far right– in an attempt to discount the validity of the tens of thousands of new voters who have signed up as a result of this massive effort.

    Moreover, using isolated examples of obvious falsification and confusion in order to imply massive institutional corruption is, quite frankly, ridiculous; I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised that a GOTV effort in Louisiana could garner between 50,000- 74,000 new voters. And I’m not sure how anyone could feign surprise that some of these forms are incomplete, some are merely address changes, and a small handful are utter fabrications. In the case of fabrications, I have to question to intention of the applicant; such a massive effort will surely attract political enemies who seek to discount its validity through subterfuge.

  4. First of all, I was never insinuating that Obama won the nomination by fraudulent voter registration. What I was insinuating was that he won by not counting many of the votes — namely Florida and Michigan. Nevertheless, that is neither here nor there, as it has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

    Your rebuttal doesn’t refute anything I said, it just uses high-minded rhetoric like all these stupid political campaigns do to detract attention from the subject at hand. “Vociferous cries of the far right”? What the hell are you? Some prepubescent Obama-spokesman-wannabe in training? And go ahead, hit me with the age-old charge of name calling — it just shows you can’t refute the charges.

    As for the actual voter registration effort, I’m not hyperbolizing single examples. Read the damn NYT story you posted. 35% if Jefferson were fraudulent — almost twice that number in Caddo. I’m not IMPLYING massive internal corruption. I’m flat out stating that it is. This voter registration effort was funded by the DSCC to get Landrieu reelected. 35% and higher cannot be simply written off as innocent mistakes. This is systematic fraud taking place here.

    I’m for everyone being able to vote. I think people ought to have to present a photo ID when they vote and I think there ought to be the same number of voting machines per capita in the 9th ward as there are in the suburbs of Baton Rouge. But I don’t want people to vote who have no right to. It is one of the most sacred institutions of our democracy, and its desecration should not be written off as an accident.

  5. Florida and Michigan? Really? Two contests in which all candidates had previously agreed not to campaign in due to blatant violations of the DNC bylaws.

    Jeremiah, you trot out on my website using some ridiculous phony name when, in fact, you are A. David Ray (or at least that is what your e-mail indicates) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Are you in the construction business? Because a Google search of your “name” reveals much.

    I will let my readers decide who you are and what you represent. A dot David dot Ray at gmail dot com. Perhaps you can clarify. Perhaps you can tell us what your photo ID says.

    Regardless, the notion that this is institutionalized corruption is just yet another absurd talking point of the far right, namely from individuals who seek to discredit the validity of the tens of thousands of people who have registered to vote. And this country, particularly in the American South, has a long and storied history of disenfranchising people on scurrilous technicalities– need I remind you of Florida and Kitty Harris’s successful effort of purging thousands of people from the rolls because they shared the same names as felons.

    “Fradulent,” in this case, depends on who you talk to (Beyond the OBVIOUS acts, what is the meat of the complaint? That some people didn’t fill out their forms all the way? There is a simple and easy way to get to the bottom of this, which they are doing in Orleans Parish… CALL THE APPLICANT), and as the story rightfully points out, these complaints are coming from members of the Republican Party.

    For all your talk of wanting everyone to be able to vote, you don’t seem willing to allow room for the notion that the numbers in Louisiana are not entirely unordinary.

    When you publicly accuse someone of systematic fraud, you should at least have the courage to provide outside evidence, other than recapituations of the same news reports we have all read.

    By the way, David, how does responding to your stupid ad hominem attack prove, in any way, that I can’t debate the issues? You insult me and then claim that any response to your insult will be proof that I can’t respond to the story. Ridiculous.

    Suspend your paranoid fantasies of a massive, corrupt, institutionalized GOTV operation and consider, just for one second, that when you attempt to register tens of thousands of voters, as has been proven empirically by Democrats and Republicans, there will be a margin of error– due to incomplete applications, duplicate applications, and incorrectly calling people “new” voters when, in fact, they only changed addresses.

    Consider the very beginning of the NYT piece:

    A Democratic voter registration drive in largely black neighborhoods of Louisiana has swamped the state’s voter registrar offices, forcing them to hire new staff members and work 12-hour days to process thousands of applications.

    Obviously, the torrent of new applications has created a strain and opened up the possibilities of abuse and duplication, which is why people are working 12 hour days.

    Believe it or not, this election is inspiring people to get out and vote. I still can’t see why this is any surprise, particularly in a state that is 31.7% African-American. For many people, this is an historic, transformational opportunity.

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