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UPDATE: Councilman pulls plan to offer free Election Day bus rides

Posted: 11:28 AM, Oct 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-05 14:28:48-05

Councilman Bruce Conque has pulled his resolution from today’s meeting.

Conque said he has spoken with Lafayette City-Parish attorneys and the Attorney General and they say Louisiana has a unique set of laws that prohibit the plan.

Here’s yesterday’s story on this issue:

 

The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to vote on a resolution Tuesday that would make bus rides free on election day.

The resolution has caused pushback from some who say that it is illegal.

Councilman Bruce Conque drafted the resolution “in an effort to increase voter participation” and to “encourage people to try public transportation”. Opponents say Conque’s proposal may be illegal.

“This is not an unusual action on our part, or at least on my part. Back in November of last year, we provided two fare-free days for people to shop and encourage them to buy local. Here we are encouraging people to vote. In my mind encouraging people to vote is just as important as encouraging them to shop,” Conque said.

Conque said he was asked by the Leauge of Women Voters to propose this resolution and he delivered.

Michael Lunsford, the Director of “Citizens for a New Louisiana” says he disagrees with Conque. He believes the resolution should be pulled.

“So now we have a scenario where you have two parish-wide taxes being proposed and only the city is getting free buses during the election. So that to me is electioneering,” Lunsford explained.

Conque said the resolution has nothing to do with electioneering.

“This is not unique to Lafayette, it’s being done across the country. I did considerable research on that very point. Second, of all we are not paying people, we are just offering free transportation and it’s not to the polls. It’s for them to use the regular bus routes on the Monday through Friday basis,” Conque said.

KATC reached out to Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin. Ardoin believes waiving the bus fee on election day would be illegal.

“I think it could certainly be interpreted that it would. The law does not allow anyone to accept payment for transporting voters to the polls. So my concern would be for the bus drivers because they would be being paid and although they would still be transporting voters elsewhere, the fact is that is could still be construed that they were transporting voters to the polls and thus putting themselves in jeopardy of violating the law,” Ardoin explained.

Councilman Bruce Conque said he is waiting to hear back from the legal counsel and he will be happy to pull the resolution if he has done something wrong.