State lawmakers kill vote-by-mail expansion

Updated: May. 19, 2020 at 5:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A House committee Tuesday killed a plan that would have allowed any registered Louisiana voter to request an absentee ballot.

Under current law, voters must explain why they will not be able to vote in person when they apply to vote by mail. The Secretary of State can deny requests that do not demonstrate a state-approved need to vote absentee.

Generally, absentee ballots are approved for senior citizens, students, ministers, people who are hospitalized, and people who have moved. Find the current requirements here.

Under New Orleans Rep. Mandie Landry’s failed measure, voters would not have been required to provide a reason in order to be approved for an absentee ballot.

Lawmakers have already agreed to a limited, temporary expansion of mail-in voting to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. For the July and August elections, voters with serious medical conditions, voters under quarantine, voters with COVID-19-like symptoms, and voters caring for someone in quarantine would also be approved for a mail-in ballot.

Ardoin testified that a permanent, broader expansion would hamstring his office without additional funding and manpower. He also said the plan would delay election results by as many as two weeks.

“Not a chance on god’s green earth can I implement this legislation for November," the Secretary of State told lawmakers.

Some lawmakers justified their ‘no’ votes with claims about voter fraud that are rarely supported by evidence. In the last 15 years, experts testified state officials have only confirmed four instances of voter fraud, none of which involved mail-in ballots.

At least 30 other states have unrestricted absentee voting, and analysis indicates voters there are more likely to be struck by lightning than successfully cast a fraudulent ballot. President Donald Trump has expressed similar concerns, despite requesting a mail-in ballot for himself in Florida in April.

Louisiana’s next election is July 11.

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