Louisiana Record

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Jefferson Parish official accused of preferential treatment of certain voters

By Michelle de Leon | Dec 1, 2016

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HARAHAN — Louisiana officials are investigating the “special” voting machine used by some voters in Jefferson Parish following complaints that the system may have been rigged.

Dennis DiMarco with the registrar of voters in Jefferson Parish is now at the center of an investigation after Robert Evans III notified U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Polite who in turn informed the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. Upon verification and with the evidence provided by Evans, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler decided to confiscate the disputed voting machine days prior to the November elections. 

Amid the accusations, DiMarco maintained that this year marked the first time the machine was used. He also insisted that the reason for its existence was only to cater to voters who had more urgent jobs than others such as firemen, police officers and emergency room doctors.

“There was no fraudulent votes, there are no allegations about that. No allegations of anyone voting who was not entitled to vote,” DiMarco was quoted as saying in a Huffington Post article. “Now, we’ve turned down everybody. So no one gets preferential treatment. But again, that means that those firemen, those policemen, are standing up rather than maybe doing their duty on the streets.”

Evans first spotted the voting machine when he was asked by one of DiMarco’s staff to cast his vote early. Upon agreeing to do so, he shared that he was led to a conference room where he completed his ballot. The day after the incident, Evans decided to take photos of the machine and notify Polite to start an investigation on the possible implications of the practice. 

Schedler said he felt that the machine had to be confiscated to “preserve the transparency and integrity of early voting and to promote confidence within the general public regarding the voting process,” according to The Advocate.

Clancy Dubos, a WWL-TV political analyst, said that the practice of providing preferential treatment to some voters in Jefferson Parish was “insulting” to the other members of the community. He further noted that Louisiana officials should seek the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as there could be several federal violations committed by DiMarco.

“This is insulting to the voters of Jefferson Parish. I think the Feds ought to investigate. I think there are potential state and federal violations there. These machines are to be used by the public and state law specifically states these machines have to be available and in public the entire time. There's no provision in the law for a VIP voting booth,” Dubos said via WWL.

Dubos went on to imply that DiMarco could have been influenced by politics. The analyst noted that the registrar of voters could face dismissal from his office despite the lifetime tenure guaranteed by his position.

"I think there are potential legal ramifications from this," Dubos told WWL-TV. "From the federal investigation, perhaps the state attorney general would investigate, perhaps the council should investigate because while a registrar of voters is appointed for life, the council could remove him for cause. And violating the state election law, seems to me would be just cause. The reason they're (registrar of voters) is appointed for life is because they're supposed to be above politics and they're supposed to be fair and unbiased and objective. This runs counter to that. He's supposed to follow the state law, not create little exceptions for friends and VIPs and things like that."

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