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Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin blasted Tuesday the number of resolutions being pursued by Republican legislators that hint at widespread voting irregularities are occurring in Louisiana elections.

“I’m dead-dog tired of my staff and the clerks and the registrars and their staffs getting poked at,” Ardoin, a Republican, told the House & Governmental Affairs Committee during consideration of another legislative instrument concerning how elections are handled.

House Concurrent Resolution 81 by Baton Rouge Republican Rick Edmonds directs the Legislative Auditor’s Office to review the State Department’s “policies, procedures, and practices and those of elections officials in this state regarding the integrity of elections.”

Edmonds ran against Ardoin for secretary of state in November 2018 promising to root out election fraud. He came in fourth in the nine-candidate primary.

Ardoin pointed out that his department’s performance already is scheduled to be reviewed and judged in 2022, as part of the legislative auditor’s routine analysis of every state agency. Edmonds’ resolution is superfluous.

Many Republicans have latched onto President Donald Trump’s accusations – unsupported by any facts or evidence – that he lost the presidential election because ballots were stolen and people unqualified to vote were allowed to and for other allegations.

As late as last week – when U.S. House Republicans ousted Congresswoman Liz Chaney from her post as House Republican Conference for refusing to support Trump’s narrative – a national PRRI poll reported two-thirds of Republicans believe the presidential election was stolen.

The Arizona State Senate ordered Maricopa County to audit the ballots cast in the presidential election after that state backed Joe Biden, the Democrat. Election ballots were counted three times in the days after polls closed in November and the results came out the same.

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Arizona’s state Senate, however, thinks any audit conducted by contractors and others will uncover miscounting of ballots. Sixteen days later the audit has attracted much criticism for its sloppy procedures by untrained personnel.

“What is going on in Maricopa County is causing more angst and people are looking what’s going on in the outside and they’re automatically applying it to Louisiana,” Ardoin said, adding he’s not against resolutions asking his office to reassess practices, but he won’t put up with the continued attack on his staff.

“I just need y’all to know that because we work hard and my people put in countless hours,” Ardoin said.

“I don’t think this is a discussion we should be having,” said New Orleans Democratic Rep. Royce Duplessis. “This all about furthering a narrative. … Rather than continue to file instruments like this and saying we’re just responding to our constituents, part of leadership is telling our constituents the truth.”

Republican members of the committee backed off somewhat and praised Ardoin for how well he ran elections in Louisiana. Nevertheless, the committee on party line vote narrowly elected to advance the resolution to full House for consideration.

Voting for conducting an integrity audit of Louisiana elections (8): Committee Chair John M. Stefanski, R-Crowley; Reps Daryl Deshotel, R-Marksville; Les Farnum, R-Sulphur; Foy Gadberry, R-West Monroe; Dodie Horton, R-Haughton; Barry Ivey, R-Central; Mike Johnson, R-Pineville; and Tanner Magee, R-Houma.

Voting against HCR81 (5): Reps Wilford Carter Sr., D-Lake Charles; Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans; Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport; Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey; and Candace Newell, D-New Orleans.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.