Bruce Conque, member of Lafayette, Louisiana’s city-parish council, had a pretty good idea: run city buses without charge on Election Day.
Routes and schedules wouldn’t change, so people using the bus to get to polling places wouldn’t have it easier or save any time, it would just save the dollar fare. Little lagniappe for doing your civic duty.
But, according to our voter-hating Lord High Executioner and governor wannabe, Attorney General Jeff Landry, use of the public transportation to transport the public to the voting polls free is against the law. Though he’s cited a law about school buses, not public passenger carriers.
Landry told The Daily Advertiser the Louisiana Secretary of State asked for advice on the matter, so Landry sent him a 1996 Attorney General opinion. That opinion said a school board could not use school buses to bring voters to election polls.
Even though the Lafayette buses would not directly bring riders to the polls, Landry said it is not allowed. The facts of the opinion may differ from the Lafayette case, he said, but the principle behind the conclusion is the same.
Others states allow public transportation to run free on election day, holiday shopping days, etc. because, according to Landry, those states’ legislatures passed a specific exemption to laws prohibiting free rides on public transport.
Which our state wouldn’t need, as there is no such law on our books. But, per Landry, the prohibition on school bus free transport shows the same intent. His money quote:
“The transportation system is not a free transportation system,” he said. “It’s owned by the public.”
But the public, through their local representatives and the people who manage the system, can’t decide how it may be used. Got it.
Of course, Landry being an uber-(unprintable) Republican, it didn’t take much prodding for the real reason for the denial to come out:
“It opens up the system for fraud.”
“Ha, ha! I really stuck it to the Man. Told the bus driver I was going to vote, but I really rode to my job! Thanks for the dollar, suckers! Smash the state!”
Or perhaps Landry was speaking of voter impersonation, something which the Heritage Foundation’s supposedly comprehensive list of “election fraud in America” says HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN LOUISIANA.
All the citations in the Heritage database are for false registrations and vote-buying. Hard to figure out how to work that on a city bus.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.