Possible free bus rides on Election Day causes controversy

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UPDATE: The resolution set to go before the Lafayette City-Parish has been dropped after talking with the state Attorney General.
 
LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – There’s controversy over a resolution set to go before the Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday.

It would offer free transportation for residents on Election Day.
 
The resolution was authored by Councilman Bruce Conque, District 6, stating that all Lafayette Transit System buses on November 6 would be free of charge, to increase voter turnout.
 
But while Conque says these free bus rides will not directly take someone to and from a voting booth, there’s still some concern that this is an example of ‘electioneering.’
 
“We’re not altering the routes in any shape or form, we’re not taking any people to the polls, we’re just making it convenient for them to cast a ballot,” said Conque.
 
But that possibly free option, is off to a shaky ride…
 
“We’re going to be busing people on Election Day? That already sounds like old Louisiana stuff, that we shouldn’t have been doing back then,” said Michael Lunsford, with Citizens for a New Louisiana.
 
The resolution states that the move would be “an effort to increase voter participation in the 2018 fall elections.” But some say it’s a prime example of electioneering.
 
“We’re going to try to enhance the pro-tax vote, inside the city limits by allowing free transportation? To me, it tells me you’re trying to swing the vote,” said Lunsford.
 
“We’re taking people along the regular bus route and saying, here’s an opportunity for you to take advantage of our system, no charge to vote,” said Conque.
 
The Secretary of State’s Office says it’s complicated, being that the bus drivers would be getting paid on the day that they would be offering the free rides.
 
“If you’re adding something of economic value regardless of where it’s going, it could be considered to the polls or near the polls, or a possibility non-gratuitous payment or gratuitous payment to vote, and again that just doesn’t fit with the spirit of the law. I understand probably the intent is just to increase voter turnout and I’m all for increasing voter turnout, but I think probably this is the wrong way to do it,” said Kyle Ardoin, Secretary of State.
 
Conque tells News 10 that he has asked the City-Parish attorney to look over the resolution, and if he finds anything out of the ordinary, the resolution will be altered or will be taken off the agenda completely.
 
Ardoin says that if this resolution passes at Tuesday night’s council meeting, his office would look more closely at possibly taking action against it.
 
To fnd out what’s on the ballot, visit our website here.

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