BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards lambasted Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin Tuesday over the issue of whether a former Louisiana mayor with a felony conviction should have been allowed to vote in the state’s most recent election.
“I have very serious concerns about your lack of knowledge regarding voting rights in the state,” the governor wrote in a letter to Ardoin.
Ardoin sent a letter to the governor asking him to investigate whether former New Roads mayor, Robert Myer, who pleaded no contest in January to charges of malfeasance in office, should have been allowed to vote while also currently serving his 1-year felony probation. “While your letter suggests you conducted an ‘initial investigation,’ it is clear that either you did not review Mr. Myer’s conviction or you are not aware of the voting laws in our state,” the governor said. “While neither of those is acceptable from the state’s chief election officer, please allow this to correct the record where you suggest that Mr. Myer ‘illegally cast his ballot.’"
The governor says the law prohibiting people under an order of imprisonment from voting refers to those who are actually confined to jail or prison. Myer was not sentenced to jail time. “If your ‘initial investigation’ had included a review of Mr. Myer’s conviction, you would have known that he was sentenced under La. C.Cr.P.Art. 893 and successfully completed the conditions of his probations in July 2018 and hopefully you would not have carelessly released Mr. Myer’s name as an individual who ‘illegally cast his ballot,” the governor wrote in his letter to Ardoin.
Ardoin, a Republican who is the interim secretary of state, is currently facing a runoff election for the seat against Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat. The governor, a Democrat, has not endorsed either candidate.
“As the chief election officer of the state, that you would toss around something as sacred as an individual’s right to vote like a political football in your ongoing campaign for office is extremely troubling,” the governor wrote.
Ardoin responded to the governor’s letter Tuesday night, saying, “The governor’s lengthy, sarcastic response is nothing more than an attempt to sidestep a potentially troubling issue and a failure to address any of our specific concerns. The fact is, we were never informed of this individual being convicted of a felony, period. That’s a problem. The statute cited in the Governor’s response isn’t even in question. It’s alarming that Governor has an issue with the legislative auditor looking into the Department of Corrections to see if there are any policies or procedures that can be improved upon. My job is to ensure votes are cast accurately and legally. If the governor has a problem with that, then we have bigger issues to deal with.”
The full letter can be read below.