Ascension Parish Council to appoint registrar of voters

Michael Tortorich

The Ascension Parish Council has received 17 applications to replace longtime registrar of voters Robert Poche.

The Ascension Parish Council’s District 6 representative Chase Melancon is shown during a November meeting in Donaldsonville. Last week, Melancon suggested a three-step system to determine the appointment of a new registrar of voters.

He recently decided to retire after nearly four decades of service.

The registrar’s office is instrumental in conducting elections, determining polling locations, and verifying voter registrations.

The appointment does not expire, and is regarded as a position that can be held for life.

According to state statute, an applicant must have one of the following: a baccalaureate degree  and two years of full-time work experience, an associate's degree and four years of full-time experience; seven years of full-time experience; or five years of full-time experience in a registrar's office in the state.

During the Feb. 4 council meeting, District 4 member Corey Orgeron said he consulted with leaders from other parishes concerning the guidelines for interviewing candidates.

He recommended reducing the interview time from a half an hour to ten minutes, and cutting back the number of questions from five to three.

District 3’s Travis Turner said he was concerned about limiting the time in the next round of interviews.

“My only concern with limiting the time is, basically whoever is appointed gets the job for life. I don’t think anybody on this council has ever gotten a job for the rest of their life that took five minutes. I think us being concerned about our time is inconsiderate to doing our job for the parish,” Turner said.

District 10’s John Cagnolatti recommended changing the time to 15 minutes. The council agreed.

Orgeron also suggested a voting process for each of the council members on the 17 candidates.

“We do it just like the public does. We vote on our favorites, and if there is a runoff, we have a runoff,” Orgeron said.

Chase Melancon of District 6 suggested a system with three steps: each council member ranks all 17 candidates, one to three with three being the highest ranking; the top three moves to the second step where each member votes for one of the three; step three, if necessary, every member votes for one of the two finalists. The finalist with the majority wins the nomination.

He also added candidates in the second round would get five extra minutes for the interview process. 

The amended motion passed with two members voting against it.