Group seeks bridge toll vote challenge

Although two weeks have passed since voters decided to renew the tolls on the Crescent City Connection ,the ire of toll opponents has not lessened, and now some of them are calling on Jefferson Parish politicians to challenge the election results.

The Voter’s League of Unincorporated West Jefferson LLC sent a letter to the Parish Council, Parish President John Young and the parish’s state delegation urging them to pursue a recount of the votes for the toll renewal. The renewal passed by 16 votes in the Nov. 6 elections, mainly on the strength of its support on the east bank of New Orleans.

Wade Perrin, the league’s chairman, said the group feels that if the election results are allowed to stand, it casts doubt on the entire political process.

Perrin said the group’s members and regular citizens have all expressed extreme doubt at the election results mainly because of the narrow margin of victory. He added that it was always unfair that residents who do not normally pay the toll were allowed to vote, and that sense of unfairness was compounded by how the counting of paper ballots was handled on election night.

“The perception here is that something might not be right,” Perrin said. “We’re just asking for Jefferson Parish to stand up for its residents.”

But Parish President John Young said it’s unlikely that the parish will pursue a legal challenge. Young, who opposed the renewal, said that while he thinks the state should look at the vote, he doesn’t think the parish should spend its money pursuing a challenge. The parish is already moving forward with discussions to take over grass cutting and maintenance on the West Bank Expressway with payments from the state, a possibility Young discussed prior to the election.

State Rep. Patrick Connick, another toll opponent, said that while he thinks there should be a recount because of the margin of victory, he won’t pursue one personally. He did say that some private citizens continue to consider that avenue, although Perrin said his group isn’t moving in that direction.

“I am not contesting it, because I do not have the resources,” Connick wrote in an email.

The toll will last for 20 years. It currently stands at $1 cash and 40 cents for toll tag users. Although Perrin’s group wants a recount of all votes, by state law an election challenge would only apply to absentee ballots and early voting ballots.