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SLP residents speak out against voting precinct changes during council meeting

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Posted at 9:00 AM, Aug 19, 2021

We're learning more about major changes for some voters in St. Landry Parish.

In 2019, the state asked local governments to consider consolidating precincts to save money on elections.

The St. Landry Parish Council moved forward by cutting 39-precincts.

Some have questions about why their polling locations were cut.

Several dozen people who live in the parish spoke about their disapproval of voting precinct changes.

Many say they were not included in the process.

"My mom lives next door to me that's 99 and I take her to the polls because she insists on voting. She has to go to Port Barre. I have to bring her to Port Barre and turn around and drive to Arnaudville Elementary. We have to drive through crossroads where we voted at all their lives,” said Krotz Springs resident Scott Harper.

"They were voting at the Washington town hall and now they have to go to Palmetto. They have the pass of Washington elementary which is a voting precinct. It doesn't make any sense and I can't wrap my head around this,” said Former City Court Judge, Vanessa Harris.

According to Parish Demographer Mike Hefner, some precinct boundaries no longer followed state law.

Plus, state legislation will allow parish governments to create precincts that can be used for redistricting.

"The legislature in the last session decided to put some constitutional amendments on that fall election so that forced us, force the council to now take a temporary set of three sinks and use that for an election which was never the intent. This was a step in the process. It wasn't the end of the process,” said Hefner

Council members also say they were blindsided when some of them voted on the issue in December 2019.

"We were told, you all are going to be a part of the process. I don't feel like I've been a part of the process. We didn't assign these precincts as council members so I just want that to be made clear. We're not here to try and pass the blame game, we're here to try and find a solution,” said Councilwoman Mildred Thierry.

"I spoke to several people. I told them I was going to try and right the wrong as best as I could because I thought we were on the right track. Now we're at this point so now I can only reassure you that I will do everything in my power to make this right,” said Councilwoman Nancy Carriere.

"All I can say is we're sorry, I'm sorry it was never meant to be like that but I will tell you that we are going to get it right this fall,” said Councilman Gil Savoy.

The parish attorney says the temporary precincts will first need to go through the election cycle.

Once that happens, they will have a better idea once the 2020 census data is fully evaluated.

Parish President Jessie Bellard says he will not sign any ordinance until he feels comfortable changing the precincts back will be in the best interest of the whole parish.

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