More ballots due in bridge toll extension vote - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

More ballots due in bridge toll extension vote

New Orleans, La. -

A day after the election, there's still no final decision in the vote on extending the CCC bridge tolls for another 20 years.

Secretary of State figures show the ballot item had eight more "yes" votes than "no" votes. But an extended deadline for military ballots was in effect until Wednesday night.

Orleans Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell said any such ballots would be counted Saturday. Meanwhile, machine totals are to be verified Thursday.

Unofficial returns showed supporters of the 20-year toll extension casting 154,373 "yes" votes; the "no" votes totaled 154,365.

West Bank residents, who pay for tolls more often than East Bankers, voted overwhelmingly against the extension.   And one West Bank lawmaker is questioning the fairness of the election.

Some people are calling it sour grapes, while others say there are many more questions that need to be answered after Tuesday night's vote count.  West Bank toll payers are livid.

One driver told FOX 8, "No more tolls. If someone wants to help me out, write me a check for a thousand dollars because it costs me a thousand a year to go across this bridge.'

The secretary of state's office extended the deadline for absentee ballots from the military, overseas and provisional voters due to Hurricane Sandy and a military plane crash in Afghanistan.

Toll opponent and state Rep. Patrick Connick (R-Marrero) is calling for the secretary of state to investigate, but bridge toll supporters feel vindicated.

"I hope the eight votes hold -- it's critically important to the region," said toll supporter and Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson.

Then there's the issue of possible voter irregularities.  One source tells FOX 8 that, in her district, controls were virtually non-existent.

Connick adds, "Orleans withheld their early voting numbers until all the other numbers were in.  I'm being pounded with people crying foul."

Those supporting the toll extension promise a new day of financial accountability, due to oversight of the CCC being handed to the Regional Planning Commission. "It will make a difference,"said Lee Giorgio with the Jefferson Business Council.

The future of tolls could depend on the opening of voting machines Thursday, and possible lawsuits down the road.   West Bank attorney Patrick Hand says he's considering a class action lawsuit, but no decision has been made.   He says it could take him several weeks to decide if he will file a lawsuit challenging the election.


This report includes content from the Associated Press (Copyright 2012; All Rights Reserved).

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