Legislature weighing bill that would allow more time to verify absentee ballots

A House committee advanced a bill Thursday to extend the time to prepare and verify absentee ballots prior to election day. 

It also advanced a bill that may soon allow your teenager to accompany you into the voting booth.

Both bills were written by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria. The bill involving teens would permit children up to 15 years old to enter voting machines, which advocates say would promote enthusiasm for voting. Present law allows parents to bring only a pre-teen child into the booth. 

Harris’ other bill would allow parishes, with permission from the secretary of state, to process mail-in and early voting ballots starting three days before election day, Manship School News Service reports. 

“The changes would provide more time and attention to the verification process and ensure, as we’ve seen in some of these past elections, that the results would be reported timely, hopefully on election night,” Harris says. Current state law permits parishes to conduct the verification process for absentee ballots the day before an election. The absentee ballots are not counted until election day, but Harris hopes that by preparing the ballots sooner, parishes can certify election results more quickly. 

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says the bill would not change the final date to accept absentee ballots. They still must be received by 4:30 p.m. the day before an election.

Ardoin says the extra time would allow the registrars of voters to accurately count mail-in ballots on primary or general election days without delays. Read the full story.