Federal judge: Louisiana should expand mail voting access for Nov. 3 election

State News

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — A federal judge Wednesday ruled that Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s Nov. 3 election plan would not allow ample access to absentee voting.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s release of a 44-page decision comes a week after she heard testimony from both sides.

Plaintiffs against Ardoin’s plan have suggested the state let more people vote by mail, instead of at public polling sites, in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. They have recommended giving mail-in ballots to those with COVID-19 symptoms, caregivers and those with higher health risks.

Defendants in the state’s election office have contended that widespread absentee voting would delay the vote-counting process.

“The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ testimony clearly establishes that the state’s maintenance of limited absentee by mail voting imposes a burden on their right to vote,” Dick wrote. “The burden on the right to vote is further supported by significant record evidence.”

Ardoin’s plan would only expand mail-in voting access to voters who test positive for COVID-19 between early voting and Election Day. Voters eligible to vote absentee before the coronavirus pandemic would still be eligible.

Defendants may appeal Dick’s decision before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.

Louisiana is one of six states that require a state-approved excuse to acquire a mail-in ballot.

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