In A Flash

Advocacy groups want emergency election plan from Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin

By: - August 3, 2020 4:30 am

Twenty-eight advocacy groups, including the NAACP, Voice of the Experienced and the Power Coalition for  Equity and Justice sent a letter to Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin last week asking that he develop a election emergency plan that will allow for maximum voter participation amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

In their letter to Ardoin, the letter writers say, “The Emergency Election Plan in effect for the July and August elections omitted important measures to protect Louisiana voters, and at best offers a baseline of mechanisms that should at minimum remain in effect for the November and December elections.”

The letter writers cite a previous report from Ardoin’s office that 30 percent more votes were cast in the July 2020 election than July 2016. “Still, some voters were left without means of participating with the confidence of safety,” they write, “because the qualifications to vote by mail did not cover all voters at risk of contracting COVID-19 (indeed, all voters). Other voters who would have qualified under the Emergency Election Plan did not become symptomatic in time to request a ballot by the deadline. Many voters never received their ballot, nor were they provided with any remedies to participate other than showing up in person, putting their own health, and the health of their communities, at risk on Election Day.”

The letter writers requested a response from Ardoin’s office by Thursday, but Peter Robins-Brown, communications director for the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice said Sunday night that the secretary of state’s office had not responded to the groups that wrote the letter.

However, Tyler Brey, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office provided a written statement to “Our office continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation across the state and explore options for the election in November.” Brey also told the news organization, “The nationwide failure of the Postal Service to handle even a modest increase of absentee mail ballots is a major cause for concern leading into November. An increased reliance on the USPS is inviting the potential for the widespread disenfranchisement of our state’s voters.”



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Jarvis DeBerry
Jarvis DeBerry

Jarvis DeBerry, former editor of the Louisiana Illuminator, spent 22 years at The Times-Picayune (and later as a crime and courts reporter, an editorial writer, columnist and deputy opinions editor. He was on the team of Times-Picayune journalists awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service after that team’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the deadly flood that followed. In addition to the shared Pulitzer, DeBerry has won awards from the Louisiana Bar Association for best trial coverage and awards from the New Orleans Press Club, the Louisiana/ Mississippi Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists for his columns. A collection of his Times-Picayune columns, “I Feel to Believe” was published by the University of New Orleans Press in September 2020.