A federal judge ruled today (Wednesday, Sept. 16) in favor of expanding the use of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election, allowing Louisiana voters to cast ballots by mail if they certify they are quarantining for COVID-19 or at risk because of underlying health conditions.
Residents only need to personally certify that they have been impacted by COVID-19, but do not need to submit a doctor’s note.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s 44-page decision released allows Louisiana’s voters to request absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election and Dec. 5 runoff if they certify they are:
- Quarantining pending COVID-19 test results
- At greater risk because of comorbidities; or
- Caring for someone who fits those criteria.
Additionally, the ruling calls for the early voting period to be expanded from a seven-day period to a 10-day period, resulting in early voting taking place Oct. 16 – Oct. 27, excluding Sundays, for the Nov. 3 election.
No special guidelines for the COVID-19 expansion of mail-in ballots have been announced.
In a statement released after Judge Dick’s ruling, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, whose office oversees elections, said, “We have received and are currently reviewing Judge Dick’s ruling. A decision as to how to proceed will be made after careful consideration of the facts is weighed with the fact that absentee voting currently underway for some voters, and early voting mere weeks away.”
Under the state’s general guidelines, voters can request an absentee ballot by by mail or by logging in to the Louisiana Voter Portal at geauxvote.com and following these steps:
- Click the “Search By Voter” button.
- Type in your First Name, Last Name and Zip Code or Birth Month and Year and then click the “Submit” button;
- Click the “Request Absentee Ballot” link found under the Quick Links heading; and
- Complete requested information and submit.
The voter must be logged in to the Voter Portal as the voter for whom the request is intended to electronically submit a request for an absentee ballot.
Voters may also print an application to request an absentee by mail ballot, which can be completed and delivered to your parish registrar of voters by U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, hand delivery, or fax. If hand-delivered or faxed, the application can only be for the voter or an immediate family member.
Voters have until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 to request a mail-in ballot.
The deadlines to return a voted absentee ballot for the Nov. 3, 2020 election are:
- Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. (day before the election) for all voters except military, overseas, and hospitalized voters; and
- Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. (day of the election) for military, overseas, and hospitalized voters.
How to receive an absentee ballot:
- Fax (with waiver of right to secret ballot);
- Email (for military, overseas, and voters with physical disabilities, with waiver of right to secret ballot)
- Hand delivery to an immediate family member of a hospitalized voter.
How to return the absentee ballot:
- By Mail.
- By Fax: Upon request submitted to the registrar of voters.
- By Hand Delivery: A voter or immediate family member of the voter may deliver the ballot to the registrar of voters (a signed statement must be completed upon delivery by anyone other than the voter, certifying their relationship to the voter).
- For the November 3, 2020 and December 5, 2020 elections, if ballots cannot be returned in-person because registrar of voters offices remain closed to the public, voters may still return absentee ballots by mail, by commercial courier, by fax (with waiver of secret ballot), or by email (for military, overseas, or emergency workers with approval of the secretary of state, with waiver of secret ballot).