Michael J. Teachworth, the Director of StopTheTolls.Org, a citizen action group opposed to the tolls on the Crescent City Connection Bridge in New Orleans, announced today that he has filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish challenging the results of the CCC toll referendum vote in the Nov 6 election.
"This referendum extends the tolls for 20 years and will remove approximately half a billion dollars from the New Orleans area, and primarily from West Bank citizens, and send it to other parts of the state." said Teachworth. "Our goal is to get a recount so the public can have confidence in the process and the final vote total."
"There were several irregularities that occurred in the conduct of this election that we believe actually changed the outcome of the CCC toll extension proposition." said G. Patrick Hand III, of The Hand Law Firm, APLC, a Gretna, LA attorney representing Michael J. Teachworth, "The integrity of the voting process must be maintained."
In his lawsuit, Mr. Teachworth alleges that the handling, timing, and transmittal of the early voting and mail-in ballots from Orleans Parish on the night of the election were irregular and highly suspect.
After the polls closed on November 6, 2012, and after one hundred (100%) percent of the precincts had reported their voting results to the Louisiana Secretary of State, New Orleans area media outlets announced that the CCC proposition was defeated by 850 votes. Later it was announced that Orleans Parish had additional mail-in and/or early-votes that it had not previously submitted, although all of the other parishes in the State had already done so in accordance with standard election protocol. Once these Orleans Parish mail-in and early-vote ballots were counted, WWL-TV reported early Wednesday morning that the CCC proposition had been defeated by approximately 805 votes. The reporter for WWL-TV stated on the air this defeat of the toll extension "was a bad day for the courthouse crowd". However, this defeat was short lived because at approximately 2:30 a.m. on November 7, 2012, it was announced that a second batch of Orleans Parish absentee ballots had been hand counted and this final tabulation had the referendum passing by the slimmest of margins.
In addition, the lawsuit also alleges that hundreds of legally registered voters in Jefferson and Orleans Parishes were given provisional ballots, despite being in the correct polling place on election-day. The provisional ballots allowed these registered voters to vote in the presidential and federal congressional elections, but excluded them from voting on the CCC toll proposition. Each of these registered voters was denied his/her constitutionally protected right to vote due to no fault of their own.
Finally, the lawsuit also claims there are allegations of improper electioneering made by a poll worker in Orleans parish, who attempted to, and in many instances did, convince voters to vote in favor of the toll extension so their property taxes would not be increased.
"Citizens who are forced to pay this unfair and discriminatory bridge tax demand that the election results be validated and proper." Teachworth said. "Anything else is un-American and unconstitutional."