by Grasyn Turpin
Local, state and federal elections are coming full force this year. While certain aspects will remain the same for our state, there will be a few notable changes. Due to the presence of a pandemic, officials have been called upon to rethink general election strategies. Here’s what you need to know.
Louisiana is one of eleven states who have been granted authority to make “general” changes to election procedures due to pandemic circumstances. This was legislated in an effort to combat the “mechanical, technical, and logistical” problems that might emerge from hosting an election during COVID. This includes lack of commissioners, relocation or consolidation of specific polling areas, or the shortage of polling machines. Also, the secretary of the state has the option to propose emergency plans (such as early voting) under the circumstances that the move is necessary. All of this is contingent on the approval of the governor and the majority of members from each relevant committee.
So far, a significant change in this year’s voting will be the extension of absentee/mail-in voting eligibility in the 2020 general election. This change will apply to those that are at risk because of serious medical conditions, those that are subject to a “medically necessary” quarantine, those that are experiencing symptoms of COVID AND are seeking medical diagnoses, and those that are caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine. Louisiana is one of sixteen states who WILL require an excuse when an absentee ballot is requested.
Regardless of COVID, standard voting regulations implemented by the government apply to those that wish to vote through any platform (mail-in, in person, etc.).
For instance, in order to vote in the state of Louisiana you must:
- Be a citizen of Louisiana
- Reside in the Parish you in which you want to vote
- Not be currently incarcerated for a felony conviction
- Not be deemed mentally incompetent
If you’ve fully met those specific standards, then you are welcomed to fill out a voter registration application. When registering to vote, there is information that you MUST have on hand. You must have your driver’s license number or special identification card number, your 4-digit audit code (you can find this on your license or special identification card. Look for “AUDIT”), and the last four digits of your social security card.
While the deadline for in-person registration is October 5th (mail-in must be postmarked by October 5th) the deadline for online voter registration in Louisiana is October 13th.
Make sure you are staying up-to-date by frequently checking the Geaux Vote website (https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/).