Mayor convicted of felony voted, Nakamoto report leads to demand for state investigation
BATON ROUGE – The state's chief election officer sent a strong demand for an investigation to the governor's office after the WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered a convicted felon with ties to a powerful state agency voted in the recent election.
Friday afternoon, the Secretary of State’s Office formally asked Governor John Bel Edwards to organize an inquiry into the matter when WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto started gathering information for a report on the 6 o’clock news. Calls for a state investigation come after WBRZ learned former New Roads Mayor Robert Myer was allowed to vote. Myer is on a one-year probation after pleading no contest in January to a felony malfeasance in office charge.
There are restrictions for most convicted felons related to not being able to vote while serving sentences or probations.
Myer pleaded no contest to charges related to using the city's credit card illegally for personal purchases following a series of WBRZ Investigative Unit reports.
In the eyes of the court, a no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea but protects the criminal from civil liability.
Myer voted because his name was not included on a list of people who are banned from voting. It’s a perplexing issue – one that election regulators in Pointe Coupee Parish where he voted blame on a communication breakdown from state authorities.
The Secretary of State said it receives a monthly list from the Department of Corrections of felons who are ineligible to vote. The Secretary of State’s Office said Friday, it believes Myer – under the supervision of the state prisons department as being on probation – should have been on that list.
“If you're on felony probation or if you are a convicted felon...you are not allowed to vote,” Sheriff Bud Torres told WBRZ. He said he has asked the area district attorney to investigate.
Calls for such reached higher levels of government when the Secretary of State’s Office frustratingly pushed the governor’s office to figure out how such a communication breakdown happened.
“Mr. Robert Myer… may have illegally cast a ballot in the recent midterm election,” Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin wrote to Governor John Bel Edwards. “An initial investigation… determined that the Louisiana Department of Corrections failed to report any felony conviction of Mr. Robert Myer.”
Prisons officials said Myer completed his probation early – citing a rule that allows for good time probation and Myer completed his in July. Although, sentencing documents signed by a judge last year ordered no change in Myer’s status until a hearing exactly a year from him being sentenced.
Local authorities and the state elections chief were concerned, though, because of Myer’s connections. His brother is a deputy secretary at the Department of Corrections.
Ardoin referenced the concern in his letter to the governor.
“I am calling on your office to fully investigate to determine if this error occurred due to negligence or if there were preferential treatment given by a high ranking official within the [Department of Corrections] who may be related to Mr. Robert Myer.”
The Pointe Coupee Parish Clerk of Court said Friday, Myer is still listed as being on active probation and the office has not been notified otherwise.
Click HERE to read the letter sent to the governor.