In my article that just came out on In These Times, there's a passage where I recount Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater's correspondence and negotiations with FEMA officials about obtaining the list of evacuees to reach them with voting information and getting funding for a Nationwide Voter Outreach and Education Campaign.
Here is a little more about all of that, not published in my article:
On November 9, I called FEMA’s media desk to ask some questions about the respective roles of Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells and Project Officer Arvin Schultz. Spokesman Randy Welch explained Well’s leadership role in Louisiana and that Project Officers, like Arvin Schultz, go around with local and state government officials to assess material damage and determine needs for funding.
“Does FEMA prioritize material damage to items like voting machines over other needs, like the Secretary of State’s voter education campaign?” I asked.
“I have to defer to whatever Butch Kinerney [another FEMA spokesperson] answered on that one, the last time you called us,” Welch said.
About ten minutes after we hung up, my cell phone rang again.
“It’s Randy Welch. I wasn’t sure you heard they resolved the voting issue,” he said, referring to the agreement FEMA finalized the day before, to mail voting information to evacuees on behalf of Al Ater.
“Yes, I did hear that,” I said.
But the “voting issue” is not resolved for Al Ater. The Secretary of State still thinks FEMA might pay for public service announcements on the radio, his spokesperson Jennifer Marusak said on November 11.
The other parts of the Voter Outreach and Education Campaign are not currently on the table, however, nor has Ater been invited back to Washington.