LA Senate halts Sec. of State's coronavirus election plan

Uncertainty continues to surround Louisiana elections as the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee rejects Secretary of State Ardoin’s emergency coronavirus election plan.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has further postponed Louisiana’s presidential primary to July 11. The original election was April 4 but was moved to June 20 due to the spread of COVID-19.

As Louisiana’s number of cases has topped over 20,000, the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office created an emergency plan to uphold the democratic process by the new July date.

Sec. Ardoin met with the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee April 15, and committee members blocked the proposal calling on Ardoin to consider their feedback on broad terms in the plan.

“The song and dance of vote-by-mail has been loud,” Secretary Ardoin said.

The new plan would allow for more people to vote by absentee ballot who do not usually qualify under Louisiana guidelines. Those voters include anyone at a high risk of illness, those 60 and older, anyone under a stay-home, quarantine or isolation order, individuals advised by a health care provider to avoid public gatherings, people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 among others.

One of the main calls for deferral of Ardoin’s plan was for individuals “unable to appear in public due to concern of exposure or transmission of COVID-19” to request a mail-in ballot. Senator Foil says this could apply to anyone.

Sec. Ardoin emphasized that his number one concern is time. To be able to request new scanning equipment and secure paper, Ardoin says the “drop dead” date is April 24.

Louisiana is receiving $6.2 million from the federal government stimulus package to aid in new election measures.

Sec. Ardoin said he feels confident that he has come up with the best solution for these unprecedented times.

“The left wants it wider; the right wants it tighter, and I’m shooting for the middle,” Ardoin said.

Members of the committee and Ardoin said they do not want to fall under the same circumstances as Wisconsin with long lines and a lack of social distancing at the polls.  However, he also said he does not want Louisiana to face a voter fraud scandal like Broward County in Florida.

In a vote of 5-1, the senators on the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee deferred an emergency certification that would have allowed Sec. Ardoin’s plan to move forward.