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Your Local Election Headquarters

Louisiana official won’t appeal election mail-in expansion

Louisiana

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin speaks to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee about his proposed emergency plan for the fall Louisiana elections, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s top elections official won’t challenge a federal judge’s decision requiring him to offer more mail-in balloting options for the fall elections to people at higher risk to the coronavirus disease.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said he must focus on implementing the required changes, suggesting an immediate appeal of U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s Sept. 16 ruling could create confusion ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“I and the voters deserve certainty,” Ardoin told The Advocate. “My staff, the clerks and the (voter) registrars and their staffs need to know how we’re conducting this election. And for us, we’re conducting this election in accordance with what the judge ruled and current law.”

Ardoin, a Republican, said his decision against asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case on an emergency basis “cuts down on the amount of confusion for voters.”

Early voting for the November election will begin Oct. 16 and run through Oct. 27.

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

Dick added extra days for early voting and reinstated expanded options for absentee-by-mail ballots that Ardoin had used for the summer elections, a plan that Republican lawmakers opposed for the Nov. 3 election and a Dec. 5 runoff election.

That will allow people to seek an absentee ballot if they are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of medical conditions; are subject to a quarantine 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 isolated because of the disease.

Ardoin said he remains concerned that the number of absentee ballots will slow the tally of votes, which usually can be posted unofficially on election night.

Parish registrars of voters report that about 185,000 absentee mail ballots already have been requested with another month to go before the Oct. 30 deadline. Usually the requests run less than 50,000, though in the 2016 presidential contest about 63,000 asked to mail their ballots.

The large number of mail ballots could delay the tally by a couple days, Ardoin said.

“I’m sure we’ll be getting a lot of calls, but I just ask people to be patient because we’ve never experienced this before,” he said.

In addition to the presidential competition, Louisiana voters also will be choosing a U.S. senator, six U.S. House members, two members of the Public Service Commission, two Louisiana Supreme Court justices, other judges, and many other local elected officials.

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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