Louisiana Secretary of State Sees Potential for New Voting Tech

While talking with the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin advocated for using new technology to improve the voting process and spoke out against a proposal to lower the voting age.

by Julia Arenstam, The Houma Courier / April 24, 2019

(TNS) — Less than a year after becoming secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin is preparing for another election battle.

Ardoin was elected in a December runoff to fill the remaining term of Tom Schedler who resigned from office after allegations of sexual harassment.

Ardoin told the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce Tuesday he will run for a full four-year term this October.

"I love the job I'm running for, again," Ardoin said.

Ardoin also spoke about some of the programs under the office's election and commercial business divisions.

As the 2019 legislative session is underway, the Secretary of State's Office is also lobbying against changes to the election system.

Ardoin said he opposes the ideas of automatic and same-day voter registration and lowering the voting age to 16 — a reference to some congressional propositions.

"For the life of me, I don't understand why we think children can elect the next president of the United States," he said.

Ardoin is also advocating a reduction in the number of special elections held each year. Without enough money and enough staff to operate those elections, "we're outpacing ourselves," he said.

As technology advances, so should the state's voting system. In the future, Ardoin said, he'd like for voters to participate in early voting anywhere in the state, not just in their home precincts.

With the right technology, a voter from New Orleans could vote in Shreveport during early voting. But if they returned home and tried to vote again, they would be rejected, he said.

The GeauxVote app could also be modified to one day allow voters to fill out a ballot ahead of time, then check-in and scan it through an expedited line at their precinct.

"There's so much out there we can take advantage of," Ardoin said. "Quicker, easier, but secure."

The secretary is also hoping to work with utility companies to verify the addresses of registered voters.

If registered voters move from one jurisdiction or municipality to another but don't change their registered addresses, the voters could still be voting in elections where they no longer live.

"I have to be able to stand up at the end of an election and say it was the fairest election I could render," Ardoin said.

With the reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election system and voting problems seen during the 2018 midterms, Ardoin said election and cyber security continues to be a priority.

"Louisiana's election system is one of the best in the nation," Ardoin said. "People look to us for new ways to deliver elections."

He said Louisiana is not "a hackable state" and that "no outside entity touches our computers."

New voting machines are being rented for the October and November elections. The purchase of new machines has been delayed after allegations of improper bid handling.

On the business side, Ardoin touted the success of the GeauxBiz website that allows companies to file all of their regulatory paperwork for the state on one site. Companies in 11 of the state's 64 parishes are required to use the online filing system now.

Ardoin said that's allowed his office to streamline operations and reduce the number of in-office staff.

In Terrebonne Parish, there are more than 8,770 licensed LLCs and corporations, 6,831 of which are located in Houma, Ardoin said.

"We're very pleased with that," he said.

©2019 The Houma Courier, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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