Coalition that sued Secretary of State responds to court victory

A federal district court judge ruled to expand early voting and mail-in voting
Vote by mail ballots will be sent out Thursday.
Vote by mail ballots will be sent out Thursday.(wwsb)
Updated: Sep. 19, 2020 at 6:15 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice Executive Director, Ashley Shelton, said Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s proposal was simply inadequate and did not meet the needs of the people.

“It felt like the emergency plan that was being presented really prioritized partisan politics, instead of prioritizing people’s safety and public health,” Shelton said.

The coalition, along with the Louisiana NAACP and two individuals, sued Ardoin in the Harding v. Edwards case.

“There were lots of folks that fell in these weird categories, like folks who got COVID after the deadline closed, and then didn’t have any way to exercise their right to vote,” Shelton said. “It didn’t make sense that only people with COVID, or that had had COVID, would have the ability to request. The whole point is that this is a public health and public safety issue that we’re trying to address.”

Federal District Court Judge Shelly Dick, for the Middle District of Louisiana, ruled the Secretary of State needs to extend early voting from seven to 10 days and expand mail-in voting for the November election.

In addition to the already listed requirements to vote by mail, Louisianians can potentially use these qualifications this year:

  • Having underlying medical conditions, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Medically necessary quarantine/isolation due to COVID-19
  • Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking test results
  • Caring for a person subject to a medically necessary quarantine/isolation order due to COVID-19

According to the Power Coalition, Ardoin’s original proposal stated people could only vote by mail if they tested positive for the virus.

Louisiana is one of 16 states that require an excuse to vote by mail. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists at least 12 states that are expanding absentee/mailing eligibility.

The CARES Act includes $400 million in emergency funds for the 2020 presidential election.

While Ardoin and Attorney General Jeff Landry still have the ability to appeal the decision, Shelton said they will not be appealing.

KSLA News 12 called and emailed both offices for confirmation, however, we have not heard back yet.

Governor John Bel Edwards has publicly supported the judge’s ruling and said he hopes they accept the decision, since the election is less than two months away.

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