Louisiana state senators back COVID-19 rules for spring elections

    Louisiana would broaden the mail-in balloting options for spring municipal elections and two upcoming special congressional elections because of the coronavirus pandemic, under an emergency elections plan that started advancing with lawmakers today.

    Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana’s top elections official, wants to use the same expansion of absentee-by-mail voting that was in place for the summer and fall elections, including the November presidential competition.

    Without objection Tuesday, lawmakers on the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the package of COVID-19 emergency rules proposed by the Republican elections chief. A House committee planned to consider the proposal later in the day.

    Republican senators who in prior debates repeatedly expressed worry about voter fraud if they expanded mail-in voting offered no such concerns this time.

    Instead, they noted Ardoin’s data showed only small percentages of voters used the COVID-19 rules in submitting absentee ballots for the 2020 elections. Most mail-in votes were cast by people legally able to do it without the emergency rules.

    “With all the teeth-gnashing we did over the COVID ballot, relatively few people took advantage of it,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, chair of the Senate committee.

    If approved by the House committee, the emergency rules advance to the full Legislature for a vote. In addition, the provisions would need the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards to take effect. Read the full story.