The League of Women Voters of Lafayette would like to share with you our thoughts regarding an issue pending your decision to enter into a memorandum of understanding between the municipalities of Broussard and Youngsville to open an early voting site there at the East Regional Public Library. This has come to our attention via a report by Megan Wyatt in the May 16th Acadiana Advocate. Link here.
Since early 2017, the League has lobbied that a more accessible early voting location is necessary to meet the needs of Lafayette Parish voters who have mobility issues. Our concerns include: public transportation to access the site, adequate parking and ground floor access for handicapped persons and persons with limited mobility, and adequate space to mitigate crowds expected during federal election cycles. The existing 1010 Lafayette St. site is dangerously inadequate. Our efforts and concerns are summarized in the attached document sent to you in a previous communication. Included in this communication is an estimate of costs required for either an additional small site or large site, as well as a sample MOU, provided to us by Representative Jean-Paul Coussan that outlines parish responsibilities regarding expanding access to early voting.
Linked here is a map that shows population density across the parish, as well as locations of the parish’s library branches. You can click on any point to read the information. Dark green indicates higher density and dark grey indicates lower density. (the legend is in the top right hand corner. While we as a League welcome efforts to expand early voting, our concerns about the selection of the East Regional site include:
1. The East Regional Library is not accessible by Lafayette Transit.
2. The East Regional Library does not appear to be the most efficient geographic location to expand access to parish wide early voting. Most residents in Lafayette Parish would have to travel further to take advantage of the larger, ground floor early voting site.
3. We recognize that the parish’s library branches represent excellent sites for early voting, we argue that the main branch of the library clearly represents a better alternative than the East Regional site, including for the majority of southside residents. The main branch is larger, more centrally located, and accessible by Lafayette Transit.
The League is sensitive to the issue of adequate funds, but we feel that the costs associated with securing expanded access to voting is worth the priority in the budget. We would ask the council to reflect on these priorities ahead of a November election that most likely will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This matter needs to be adequately dealt with now. Every voter in Lafayette Parish deserves a safe, accessible opportunity to early vote.
Thank you for your service to Lafayette Parish,
League of Women Voters of Lafayette
Sample MOU with costs estimates for small and large early voting sites.https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WPhzv21G3PIpFzrYhnh_onzA6icFQVwj
February communication outlining problems with 1010 Lafayette site. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nq-ajqrIOp7uPYeon0qGIIxkZNa1ljCL