Complaints to be filed against Cynthia Hedge-Morrell for Election Day incident

Published: Feb. 18, 2014 at 3:46 AM CST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Cynthia Hedge-Morrell
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - One of the candidates vying for an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council is preparing to file formal complaints against current Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Jason Williams says Hedge-Morrell violated election laws by handing out election material to residents at a polling place on Election Day.

Council-at-large candidate Jason Williams is angry over what he believes happened.

"Anything that infringes upon or taints the Democratic process is wrong," Williams said. "We have to file a formal complaint with the Secretary of State, we have to file a formal complaint with the Board of Elections, as well."

Williams said he plans to file complaints Tuesday against Cynthia Hedge-Morrell because he said she showed up at the Guste High Rise - where a polling place was located - and handed out election material to the residents there.

"The election code is pretty clear about things you can and cannot do," said Williams.

The code says a candidate can't be within 600 feet of a polling place and can't hand out campaign literature of any kind.

Two of the polling commissioners on duty that day told FOX 8 that they saw Hedge-Morrell inside the lobby of the senior living high rise, and subsequently asked her to leave because the lobby was too close to the voting machines. Those polling commissioners say they called the Clerk of Court's office, run by Arthur Morrell, Cynthia's husband, to complain and get some assistance. They say after a short time, Hedge-Morrell returned to the high rise, accompanied by the manager of the building. The polling commissioners said residents told them Hedge-Morrell was knocking on doors inside the building, handing out election material.

The polling commissioners said after Hedge-Morrell spent about an hour upstairs, they again had to ask her to leave the building.

When we contacted Hedge-Morrell's campaign manager shortly after the election, he told us Hedge-Morrell wasn't at the Guste that day. But at least one resident, who remembers seeing her, disagrees. Pointing at the front driveway of the Guste, resident Wilburt Washington explains, "They came right here and somebody came and told them something, they went across the street."

FOX 8 tried to obtain a copy of the surveillance footage taken at the Guste High Rise on Election Day, first by filing a public records request, and then having our attorney send a letter to the Housing Authority of New Orleans. After repeated requests, we still haven't been given a copy of the video.

Jason Williams said, along with the Board of Elections and Secretary of State's office, he's also filing complaints with the District Attorney's office and the Inspector General.

FOX 8 tried repeatedly Monday to reach Cynthia Hedge-Morrell for comment on this story, reaching out not only to her and Arthur Morrell, but also to her campaign manager and communications director at City Hall. We received no response.

The runoff election between Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Jason Williams will take place March 15.

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