PORT ALLEN — An attorney for former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter filed a complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Justice Department seeking an investigation into alleged voter intimidation and suppression he claims is interfering with early voting in the Port Allen mayor’s race.
Slaughter’s attorney, Ronald Johnson, states in a letter to the Justice Department that a probe by the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office of possible voter fraud is intimidating some black voters from casting their votes.
The letter claims the investigation by the Sheriff’s Office violates federal voting and civil rights laws because it targets mostly elderly and/or disabled black voters in Port Allen.
“Some are expressing outright fear as a result of the sheriff’s investigation,” Johnson said Wednesday. “The manner by which the investigation is being conducted has left them feeling they need not cast their vote or they have cast it wrongfully.”
Johnson, in the letter, accuses the Sheriff’s Office of outright asking individuals targeted in the investigation if they have voted for Slaughter during early voting last week. Slaughter’s attorney also chides the Sheriff’s Office for publicly indicating Slaughter is a target in the investigation without supporting documentation or proof of her involvement.
Johnson’s letter also includes a request for federal oversight over Saturday’s mayoral election.
The Sheriff’s Office launched its investigation last week after receiving complaints that hundreds of mail-in and faxed requests for early voting ballots did not match voter information on file with the parish Registrar of Voters Office.
Authorities said previously at least one individual trying to submit an early ballot was told by workers in the Registrar’s Office that his ballot could not be accepted because he had already cast his vote via mail-in ballot. However, the individual told authorities he hadn’t voted.
Authorities also previously said at least one of the ballots under review in the special election is from someone tied to Slaughter’s campaign.
Slaughter is one of four candidates vying for the city’s mayoral spot following her Nov. 16 recall.
In his letter, Johnson tries to link the Sheriff’s Office to Slaughter’s recall because an employee of that office served as the chairwoman on the recall committee.
“We filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office that Delores Kibby, the recall chair, was running the recall campaign from the Sheriff’s Office and have evidence to support the complaint but the Secretary of State’s Office sent the complaint to the Sheriff’s Office to investigate,” Johnson says in the letter.
Col. Richie Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, responded Wednesday, saying they wouldn’t let their investigation be undermined or dictated by what he called “subversive tactics” by Slaughter’s camp.
“The investigation is ongoing and gaining momentum which would probably explain apprehensiveness on the part of anyone who may be involved with voter fraud in this election,” Richie Johnson said in a prepared statement. “If the Justice Department joins the investigation now, maybe it will save them a trip at a later date.”