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Voter Suppression or Voter Depression?

Sue Lincoln

It’s “Voter Registration Week” in Louisiana, and Secretary of State Tom Schedler is urging everyone possible to participate.

“You can go online and do that in about 3 minutes,” Schedler says, by logging onto “It’s not that difficult.”

Lately, Schedler has been expressing concerns about what appears to be a state and national trend toward declining election participation. He’s not alone. In fact, just last week a caller asked the governor about other ways to increase participation.

“I wanted to ask you how you feel about automatic voter registration and mail-in ballots,” the caller, identified as Lee from Harvey, inquired during the governor’s monthly radio show.

“I believe Oregon has done both of those things – and voter participation is up,” Governor John Bel Edwards replied, adding of course he’d want to hear more from Schedler on the topic.

Schedler, speaking at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that same day, indicated he is not a fan..

“What’s happened in the state of Oregon is a movement by some political factions,” Louisiana’s elected Secretary of State – a Republican – stated.

“You know, there’s been a lot of rhetoric about voter fraud. It’s the subject of the day,” Schedler continued. “Do I think voter fraud occurs? Yeah. To a large degree? No. Matter of fact, the only fraud that we usually see is in small jurisdictional elections, and you know what it involves? A paper ballot.

“Oregon is an all paper ballot state, no machines, no photo ID. Can you imagine?”

Schedler says he doesn’t believe declining election participation here and elsewhere is because citizens are being prevented from voting.

“Bring me a person in Louisiana that feels voter suppressed; that he or she cannot register to vote – there’s someone blocking you from doing that; and then after you register, that someone is blocking you at the precinct that you can’t vote,” he challenged. “It’s quite frankly, just the opposite. It’s voter depression, not suppression.”

He put the blame partly on “partisan news media”, which he feels is causing citizens to turn off and tune out on their civic responsibility. As an example, he pointed to the October 14th primary election for a new state Treasurer, saying, “We probably won’t hit 20-percent turnout.”

But then he encouraged, “You may hate the issue. You may hate the candidates. But can we all agree – not Ds, not Rs, not red states, not blue states – that we ought to at least go vote?”