Registrar of Voters

The Registrar of Voter's position is unique in local government.

I. Power

The State Constitution created the position of Registrar of Voters with the intent to protect the independence of the Registrar and thus the voter registration process. The Registrar of Voters is the custodian of voter registration application, and handles early voting, which includes absentee voting. The Registrar is an employee of the state through the Secretary of State's Office, but is appointed by the Lafayette City-Parish Council to serve the parish. The Registrar of Voters can be removed from office only for malfeasance, and otherwise serves until retirement. 

The State Constitution also permits the Registrar of Voters to appoint a Chief Deputy and a Confidential Assistant, and lists the number of office employees based on the size of the parish population. The Registrar of Voters and staff must follow every legal requirement of the extensive Louisiana Election Code, The Board of Election Supervisors Handbook, and the rules and regulations of the Secretary of State.  Registrars, Deputy Registrars, and Confidential Assistants are also required to stay current with new regulations. Ongoing training for this purpose is provided through the Office of the Secretary of State and the Registrar of Voters Association, following each Legislative session. 

The Attorney General is the attorney and legal adviser to the Registrar of Voters and may authorize the Registrar to employ special counsel, with those costs paid by Lafayette Consolidated Government.  The Registrar of Voters may be sued in district and appeal courts at the suit by two or more qualified voters of Lafayette Parish. 

The only qualification to be a Registrar of Voters is to be a registered voter of Lafayette Parish. The trained Deputy Registrar and Confidential Assistant, who must also be registered voters of Lafayette Parish, are equally eligible for appointment as Registrar of Voters in the same way as the general public. The Registrar of Voters and all employees of that office must not participate in any political activity or make any political contributions.


II. Services

Besides registering voters and conducting early voting for all elections, the Registrar of Voters maintains a list of active registered voters for Lafayette Parish updated daily by

  • removing those because of  death, current imprisonment for a felony, interdiction for mental incompetency, or moving out of parish
  • confirming changes to name, address, and party affiliation
  • annual canvassing of all registered voters by Post Office verification through the Secretary of State's Office and the Registrar's sending an address confirmation card to those not verified at the current address
  • verifying the Secretary of State's registered voters list against the parish records
  • revising precinct lists of active voters following each redistricting through reapportionment
  • challenging those claiming ineligibility for jury duty through not residing in Lafayette Parish and removing them from the voter rolls if found to be living outside the parish
 The Registrar's services also support the functions of other governing authorities of Lafayette Parish:
  • serve as a member of the Board of Election Supervisors for Lafayette Parish
  • remain open on all election days for voter registration questions
  • provide the voter rolls by precinct for each election
  • verify for the purpose of annexation by the City-Parish Council  and the five smaller municipalities the number of registered in the annexation area and that the signatures collected are those of registered voters and enough to ensure the required percentage of registered voters who are petitioners
  • maintains up-to-date voter statistics for Lafayette Parish through the Secretary of State's website for the public. This information is  frequently used by candidates for office at all levels of government, for annexation consideration, and for local statistics in general. Statistics are reported by district, municipality party, age, and ethnicity.

III. Money

Salaries for the Registrar of Voters, the Chief Deputy, and the Confidential Assistant are set constitutionally by parish population. Lafayette is one of the larger parishes. The Secretary of State appropriates funding for salaries of the office of the Registrar of Voters through the annual budget of the Secretary of State. The state pay is supplemented by Lafayette Consolidated Government. Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government is also required to furnish office space near the Court House, the cost of all equipment and supplies, and operation expenses. The City-Parish Council must approve these costs within the annual budget of Lafayette Consolidated Government and may reduce them.

Income:
39% parish
61% state

Expenses:
 84% Salaries
11% Benefits
4% Office Supplies/Furnishings
<1% Travel/Training

Total budget in 2009 was $389,306.



Sources:

Constitution of Louisiana, Article XI, Section 5
W. Lee Hargrave,The Louisiana State Constitution, A Reference Guide, vol. 37, page 185.
Louisiana Revised Statues, Section 18:55-192, 221.
The Handbook of the Board of Election Supervisors, 2008.
"Lafayette Parish Government Annual Report Required by LA:R.S. 42:283-285 for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2009, Registrar of Voters."
Interview with Charlene Meaux-Menard, Registrar of Voters of Lafayette Parish, April, 2010
Contact for update with Charlene Meaux-Menard, Registrar of Voters of Lafayette Parish, September, 2015.
Comments