PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is investigating potential voter fraud in Port Allen. It comes nearly a week before Port Allen will hold an election for mayor after ex-mayor Deedy Slaughter was recalled. Slaughter is one of four candidates running for office.
West Baton Rouge Sheriff Office's Col.. Richie Johnson said, "There is an active voter fraud investigation being conducted by our office and the secretary of state."
They're looking into hundreds of applications that were faxed into the West Baton Rouge Registrar for early voting. The applications are a "request for mail-in ballot," and request the Registrar of Voter to send a mail-in ballot. Voters are allowed to submit absentee ballots through various ways. One of them includes faxing in an application. Once Registrar Stacy Ryan receives the application, she has to verify all the information on the application with all the information on file for that particular voter, especially the signature. If something does not match up, Ryan denies the application. If everything does match, Ryan then mails out a ballot for early voting.
Early voting for the April 5 mayoral election began Saturday, March 22 and ends Saturday, March 29. Johnson did not specify exactly how many ballots were in question or who sent them, but he did say they launched their investigation late Thursday into ballots submitted since early voting began.
Johnson says what flagged investigators was the number of people faxing in requests. Also, he said when someone went to cast a ballot for early voting, he was told he could not vote because Ryan had already received his vote by mail. Johnson added at least one of the hundreds of faxed in ballots allegedly is connected to the Deedy Slaughter's camp.
"I need some proof on that," said ex-mayor Deedy Slaughter. "Those faxes are coming in from different locations."
When WAFB's Kiran Chawla asked Slaughter if anyone from her camp faxed applications, she replied, "Nope." Instead, she said, "I received a number of complaints from senior citizens and other voters of Port Allen who were contacted by sheriff's deputies, and they were asked if their signatures were on the early voting forms. They replied to the deputies that not only did they sign the early voting forms, but that most of them had two witnesses on each form," said Slaughter. Slaughter alleged the deputies were asking voters if they voted for Deedy Slaughter.
Johnson responded, "That's just silly." He added two detectives were sent out to verify signatures that were submitted and rejected by Ryan, but never asked any voter who they voted for.
"Here we are on the eve of early voting, with the Sheriff's Office releasing press with false claims to suppress and intimate the voters. My attorney is in the process of filing an official complaint with the United States Dept. of Justice concerning this voting intimidation and suppression," said Slaughter.
Count on WAFB.com and 9News to bring you full coverage of the Port Allen election on April 5.