BATON ROUGE, La. (Ben Caxton) — Louisiana voters are waiting to learn if they’ll face a stark choice to cast their ballots this fall: Do you stay home if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and skip the election? Or do you violate public health guidance about isolation and stand in line with dozens of other people to vote, possibly spreading the highly contagious virus?
The emergency elections plan put forth by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and backed by Republican lawmakers could force people in quarantine to choose between the safety of others and their voting rights.
That plan won’t happen because Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards intends to block it, so a federal judge is expected to decide the rules for the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional election and the state’s Dec. 5 runoff.
That leaves voters uncertain about what options they’ll have — and if their state will require them to make risky choices to vote.
The plan offered by Ardoin, the Republican elections chief, provides no way for someone urged to isolate because they were exposed to the COVID-19 disease caused the coronavirus to seek an absentee-by-mail ballot unless they meet criteria in existing law.
Louisiana’s absentee balloting procedure is limited to people 65 or older, members of the military, overseas voters, people who are hospitalized, people who are physically disabled and people who won’t be in their parish for the election.