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Ardoin: Ruling will have little effect on state voting

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ruled that Louisiana should allow more access to absentee mail ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential elections.
That ruling, unless overturned on appeal, stops Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin from using an emergency election plan that limited the use of mail-in ballots.
Gov. John Bel Edwards opposed Ardoin’s plan and immediately expressed his support of Dick’s ruling.
Ardoin issued a statement later in the week explaining his opinion of what Dick’s ruling does and does not do.
Ardoin said the ruling:.
• Does NOT force mandatory, universal, or automatic vote-by-mail.
“Nobody in Louisiana will be required to vote by absentee ballot; anyone who chooses to do so can still vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day,” he said.
• Does NOT create no-excuse absentee voting.
“Those who vote absentee will still have to fill out the proper documentation and provide the appropriate identification,” Ardoin said. “No voter will be allowed to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse, just like in other elections.”
• Does NOT force the state to adopt voting on Sundays.
• Does NOT force the state to adopt same-day voter registration.
“Had the judge granted everything the plaintiffs wanted, we would have been required to have 13 days of early voting, which would have meant same-day voter registration during early voting,” he explained.
• Does NOT relax the stringent requirements in place for those vote by absentee ballot.
“Those who do vote by absentee ballot will still be required to have a witness signature on their ballot,” Ardoin said.
• DOES adopt the early voting timeline Ardoin proposed in August: 10 days of early voting with extended hours.
“In fact, the judge only granted the plaintiffs one request from their extensive liberal wish-list: the adoption of the COVID-19 absentee ballot excuse form from July and August, utilized by less than one percent of all voters in those elections,” said the secretary of state.
Ardoin continued, “In the court hearing over the July and August, the judge stated that the emergency plan I crafted along with the Attorney General and approved by the legislature was why he wouldn’t grant the plaintiffs universal, no-excuse vote by mail. That same plan likely prevented this judge from forcing us to adopt what I have stood up against time and time again: automatic, no-excuse, universal vote-by-mail.
“Furthermore, the Attorney General issued a ruling that clarified that those with higher risk health conditions would be able to vote through the disabled absentee voter program with a doctor’s note. Nearly 75 percent of COVID-19 absentee voters in July and August requested a ballot through the higher risk category; therefore, this ruling effects a very small number of voters.
“While I am disappointed in this ruling, I believe the foresight shown by your Republican elected officials earlier in the year in adoption of our reasonable, temporary emergency plan prevented a massive expansion of vote-by-mail in Louisiana.
“In the coming days, we are likely to see lots of disinformation about our November and December elections. I’m asking citizens to help us prevent voter confusion by calling our office with your questions or to report any disinformation you come across.”

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