CCC tolls are on hold; judge orders new vote - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

CCC tolls are on hold; judge orders new vote

New Orleans, La. - The saga of the Crescent City Connection toll extension continues. While the issue remains unresolved, the tolls are on hold.

Tuesday afternoon, toll takers at the CCC were gone and signs were up, stating, "Tolls suspended effective immediately. Please drive through."

For now, people are using the bridge over the Mississippi River free of charge. Tolls were suspended after a state district judge nullified the election that renewed the CCC tolls for 20 years.

The group Stop the Tolls challenged the election in a lawsuit, claiming hundreds of registered voters were unfairly excluded from the November vote. When their names didn't appear on the registrars' rolls, their only option was to use provisional ballots. Those ballots didn't include state and local elections.

The judge agreed those voters were disenfranchised and called for a new election.

"We just made history," said attorney Patrick Hand. "I don't think anybody has ever done this, not in this context before."

"This is just a great day," added Michael Teachworth with Stop the Tolls.  "Gives us another chance to defeat an unfair tax on the people of the West Bank."

Fay Faron is in favor of the tolls. She is with Friends of the Ferries and says, without the tolls, the bridge and ferries will likely have to compete for state funding. She worries, in the end, both will lose. 

"I think what should happen is, take the people who there is a problem with and you find out if they really were denied their rights," said Faron. "Then you take those 90 people, as Jefferson Parish seems to think, or a thousand or whatever it is, and you have them vote only. There's not reason to nullify the entire thing."

Nonetheless, the November 6 election is now null and void. Secretary of State Tom Schedler is calling for a new election on May 4.  In a statement he wrote, "Clearly there were mistakes at the local level for this election and I plan to reach out in the coming weeks to see if the clerks and registrars in those parishes would like some technical assistance from our office."

"This is quite unusual," commented Tulane law professor Edward Sherman.  "I think this is one of those rare cases where errors have taken place and it's been caught and the testimony was very compelling and I think the judge has done the right thing."

Now the issue goes back to voters. In the meantime, the CCC is a toll-free connection.

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