Gov. Edwards will block emergency virus elections plan

Louisiana

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s emergency election plan for the November election, released Monday, scales back mail-in voting allowances significantly.

BATON ROUGE, La. (WWL-TV)— Gov. John Bel Edwards says a plan laid out by the Louisiana secretary of state rolling back absentee voting ahead of the November election is inadequate based on where the state is in its coronavirus-fighting efforts. 

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s emergency election plan for the November election, released Monday, scales back mail-in voting allowances significantly from what was allowed during the recent summer elections. 

The emergency plan must be approved by the state legislature and the governor.

It offers no expansion of absentee voting for people with conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus or people who are in self-quarantine because of virus exposure. 

It also cuts the early voting period from 13 days to 10. Louisiana’s early voting period has traditionally been one week. 

Those requesting an absentee ballot under his emergency plan need to meet one of these criteria: 

  • Voters over 65
  • Members of the military 
  • Overseas voters
  • Voters currently hospitalized
  • People who won’t be in their parish for the election
  • Anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 during the early-voting period

Voting rights advocates have already filed a federal lawsuit against Ardoin, Edwards and other government officials, saying the state isn’t doing enough to protect ballot access during the pandemic. 

Power Coalition for Equity and Justice’s executive director, Ashely Shelton, wants to know why the state is scaling back mail-in balloting the midst of a pandemic. 

“I do think it basically causes voter suppression because if you have underlying conditions or are predisposed to this virus, how can you possibly vote in this election,” Shelton said. “The idea that we are not willing to offer people every possible way to access their and pathway to their vote, I find that to be unfortunate and unfair.” 

In a press conference Tuesday, Edwards said he expects any accommodations for voters to come from the courts. 

“I do not support his plan,” the governor said. “I do not believe it accommodates all the voters that should be accommodated in this public health emergency.”

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