ELMWOOD - Federal and state officials are investigating what some are calling a 'private' voting machine at the Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters office.
The machine was taken and is now in the custody of the Secretary of State's office.
Dennis DiMarco, the Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters said the machine in question was not an attempt to cast fraudulent votes and is – in his words – no big deal.
"It's really a convenience for those whose time is, for lack of a better word, maybe more valuable than others," DiMarco said.
A record number of Jefferson Parish voters have been taking advantage of the early voting period this week. While most have been standing in long lines, a select few were apparently able to avoid the wait and cast their ballots using a special machine.
Until Thursday, the machine in question was located in the private conference room of Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco.
Robert Evans, the attorney behind the effort to recall Parish President Mike Yenni, said he used the machine on Tuesday.
Evans was in DiMarco's office to follow up on a discussion about how close he could collect recall petition signatures near a polling area.
"His office staff said he keeps two actual machines to himself, next to his office, so they escorted me to a secret room, next to his office, where there are two machines that are not available to the public."
Louisiana's Secretary of State, Tom Schedler, sent DiMarco a letter stating that a complaint was made to the U.S. Justice Department regarding the machine in his conference room.
Schedler, who serves as the state's chief election officer, ordered his staff to seize the machine, along with the signature pages for the voters who voted in the conference room.
Schedler wrote that the "action is necessary to preserve the integrity of early voting and to promote confidence within the general public regarding the voting process.
DiMarco said the machine in question was set up for people who needed to go to the head of the line, like police officers and firefighters, and, he admits, some VIPs.
"This was not a way of allowing a fraudulent vote or anything like that," DiMarco said.
"It was merely a convenience for people that we feel and the law allows the privilege to go to the head of the line."
Evans admitted he was the one who notified the feds about DiMarco's voting machine.
"That causes great concern," Evans said. "How he uses these machines when the court's closed and the people aren't around?"
"It's not a big issue," DiMarco countered. "We were contacted by the Secretary of State out of an abundance of caution. We removed the machine."
Eyewitness News talked to some voters who said they didn't think it was proper to have a voting machine in a private conference room.
"I would think it's unacceptable and I'm glad whoever found out about it got it changed and it's no longer there," said one voter.
(© 2017 WWL)