Two state officials announced an investigation against a councilman in the town of Amite today.
Attorney General Jeff Landry and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said their offices conducted a joint investigation of Amite Councilman Emanual Zanders.
Zanders was booked with eight counts election fraud, Landry said.
Amite is a town of about 4,000 people located in Tangipahoa Parish.
During their press conference, Landry said that the investigation began after the Tangipahoa registrar of voters called to report some odd voter registration forms.
allegedly found 16 voter registrations that listed two vacant lots as their address in Zanders' district. They also say their investigation found a voter registration for another person that listed Zanders' address. That person denied having filled out the form, and the signature on it was not theirs.
Landry said Zanders "manipulated citizens into changing their voter registrations." The citizens would sign the voter registration form, and then Zanders allegedly filled in the fraudulent address, Landry said.
Landry and Ardoin both said that a secure voting process is vital to democracy. They said this investigation is ongoing and so they were unable to take questions.
Here's the press release Landry's office sent to us:
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin this morning announced their offices have arrested an Amite City Councilman on eight counts of election fraud. Emanuel Zanders, III is accused of violating LA RS 18:1461.2 by procuring or submitting voter registration applications that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent.
At a news conference in Baton Rouge (of which audio and video is available for broadcast here, both Attorney General Landry and Secretary Ardoin expressed the importance of election integrity through free and fair elections. They stressed that every legal voter gets one legal vote and no more: one man, one vote.
“Anything other than a one-for-one vote distorts our election process,” said Attorney General Landry. “Those who wish to distort an election in this matter are breaking the law and betraying their fellow citizens. It is even more disheartening when the perpetrator is an elected official.”
“Election integrity matters,” said Secretary Ardoin. “Yesterday’s arrest is the culmination of work by my office, the Attorney General's Office, the Registrar of Voters, and others; and it proves that the multi-level checks and balances of our election processes and procedures work. This should serve as a stark warning to those looking to violate our election laws.”
Councilman Zanders was arrested and charged on Monday afternoon. His arrest was a result of the ongoing, joint investigation between the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation and the Secretary of State's Office. In October, the Tangipahoa Parish Registrar of Voters contacted the Secretary of State's Office with concerns that voter registration forms were being turned in with fraudulent address information. It is alleged that Councilman Zanders purposefully manipulated over twenty Louisiana citizens into illegally changing their voter registration by asking citizens to sign registration forms that he would later complete with a fraudulent address. It is further alleged that Councilman Zanders submitted another voter registration application on behalf of a citizen using his own address.
“Election integrity is the bedrock of our election process. I am proud of the work Secretary Ardoin has done to protect our elections and weed out bad actors who wish to betray our system and way of life,” concluded Attorney General Landry.
As Attorney General Jeff Landry noted at today’s news conference , one of the most sacred principles in our criminal justice system is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Additionally, as this is an ongoing investigation, the Louisiana Department of Justice will not make any comments that could jeopardize the integrity of the investigation or the successful prosecution of the crimes alleged.
Here's the press conference:
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