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Delayed Louisiana presidential primary is settled Saturday

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana holds its presidential primary Saturday, an election that was postponed twice because of the coronavirus outbreak and pushed back so many months that it became irrelevant to the selection of the Democratic nominee to challenge Donald Trump.

Before Louisiana’s election results were tallied, it already was decided that Trump would face Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.

Trump was expected to easily win Louisiana’s GOP primary, where he faces four other Republicans on the state’s ballot seeking the nomination. Biden was one of 14 Democrats on Louisiana’s ballot.

Polls close at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, voters had extra days of early voting and expanded mail-in balloting options, boosting the number of votes cast ahead of Election Day to historic levels. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office took extra precautions at polling locations as well, saying workers would regularly sanitize voting areas and wipe down voting machines.

Louisiana’s presidential primary is one of the latest in the nation this cycle, after being delayed two times from its original April 4 date. Only Connecticut has a presidential primary later, on Aug. 11, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s a rare closed party primary in Louisiana, a state that generally allows all of its candidates regardless of party to run against each other at one time.

Because of the virus, Louisiana lawmakers agreed to allow the election — which also includes municipal competitions in 24 parishes — to run under emergency rules.

The rules gave Ardoin, the Republican elections chief, the ability to change precinct locations, relocate polling places, expand in-person early voting from seven days to 13 days and widen the availability of mail-in absentee ballots to people affected by the virus.

Louisiana’s existing absentee balloting procedure usually is limited to people who are 65 years old or older, members of the military, overseas voters, people who are hospitalized and people who won’t be in their parish for the election.

The emergency plan let people seek an absentee-by-mail ballot for the Saturday primary if they attested on an application that they are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of certain medical conditions; are subject to a quarantine or isolation order; are advised by a health provider to self-quarantine; are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical confirmation; or are caring for someone who is quarantined or isolated because of the disease.

Ardoin also will use those emergency rules for an Aug. 15 municipal runoff election.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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