Additional early voting days nearly secured in Louisiana

Legislation headed to governor’s desk would give voters 4 more days to vote early in presidential elections
Published: May. 27, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 11:34 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KSLA) — Louisiana voters could have four additional days for early voting in the next presidential election. That is, if Gov. John Bel Edwards signs the bill.

House Bill 286, filed by state Rep. Frederick Jones, would give Louisiana voters 11 days instead of the current seven days for early voting. The legislation has passed with bipartisan support in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate.

“People don’t live single-issued lives. So being able to provide them additional access to voting and democracy is really crucial,” Janea Jamison said.

She has been down in Baton Rouge advocating for the bill’s approval on behalf of the Power Coalition for Justice and Equity.

According to the Louisiana secretary of state’s records, participation in early voting in presidential elections has increased steadily in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic only further encouraged people to vote early with the hopes of avoiding long lines and crowded polling locations.

Louisiana voters increasingly are choosing to vote early in presidential elections.
Louisiana voters increasingly are choosing to vote early in presidential elections.(Source: Desitinee Patterson/KSLA News 12)

During the 2020 presidential election, KSLA asked voters why they decided to vote early.

“For one thing, I know I’m going to be working on Election Day, and the lines are probably going to be long,” one voter said.

Plus, Jamison pointed out that Louisiana is prone to disaster, which can interfere with Election Day.

“This can eliminate some issues, like if something were to happen on Election Day, like power outages,” she explained. “We even saw this back in the fall; we saw Lake Charles and Shreveport and some of the rural parishes had to consolidate into one polling location.”

Jamison said this is just the beginning in her fight for voting rights in Louisiana. “This is a policy we plan to build on. As with all policy work, it’s incremental.”

The Power Coalition filed and won a federal lawsuit during the 2020 presidential election to extend early voting and voting by mail options. The nonprofit wants to eventually expand voting policies for all elections, not just presidential elections, she said.

This comes at a time when other Republican-led states are restricting voting policies. “Louisiana can proudly say that they are at the forefront in expanding voting access and voting democracy,” Jamison said.

State lawmakers do expect the governor to sign HB 286 into law. If that happens, the legislation would go into effect for the next presidential election in 2024.

Below is the text of HB 286 as it was sent to the governor:

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