Louisiana Secretary of State talks changes to early voting due to COVID-19

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 6:54 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said commissioners across the state will be taking additional measures to ensure early voting for the July 11th election is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ardoin said staff will be wearing masks and sanitizing voting machines and equipment between uses. Voters will be asked to stand six feet apart. Though it isn’t mandatory, Ardoin said they’re also encouraging voters to wear a mask.

Ardoin said individual registrars will be making a decision on building capacity. The Ouachita Parish Registrar’s Office said they’ve got measurements set up to keep voters six feet apart, and the line may end up spilling out the door to ensure that distance is kept.

Ardoin said absentee voting has been expanded due to COVID-19 as well.

“So we have our normal 11 reasons for absentee balloting requests and we have an additional COVID-19 excuse form,” he said.

He said there are five additional reasons someone can request an absentee ballot related to the virus. These include someone being at severe risk for the illness, being under an isolation order, displaying symptoms, or caring for someone who’s susceptible.

“We just ask them to call their registrar of voters or go online and get it and fill it out and send it in, and they can get an absentee ballot,” he said.

If you’re worried about voter fraud due to absentee ballots, they have plenty of measures in place to ensure that doesn’t take place.

“Well, of course, the absentee ballot request form is the number one barrier to fraud because the voter has to identify themselves. They have to provide the information necessary that matches what’s in their registration file and their signature has to match. Additionally, we’ve instructed registrar’s to make certain all that information matches on the COVID excuse form and make sure the ballot is filled out appropriately when it’s returned, that there’s a witness and that the voter has signed, etc,” said Ardoin.

The last day to register online to vote is June 20th.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is July 7th and the deadline to return it is the 10th.

Early voting starts June 20th and goes until July 4th.

In Ouachita parish, you can vote either at the registrar’s office or at the West Monroe Convention Center from 8:30am to 6pm every day except Sunday.

According to the Ouachita Parish Registrar’s Office, you must have a photo ID. The Office also said things may take longer than usual because workers will be sanitizing equipment between uses.

You can contact your local registrar’s office for more information.

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