Louisiana elections official says volume of mail-in ballots could delay results by days
Louisiana’s election commissioner said Wednesday she is “extremely concerned” about getting election results on Election Day even if the state’s mail-in voting program isn’t expanded as the Democratic governor and voting rights advocates are pushing to do.
The volume of absentee ballots could delay tabulating votes by two to six days, election commissioner Sherri Wharton Hadskey said, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m extremely concerned about trying to get the results on Nov. 3,” Hadskey testified under cross examination in an online hearing Wednesday as part of a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates looking to expand mail balloting, according to the AP.
Hadskey said in written testimony the state has received nearly 169,000 absentee ballot requests, according to the AP. The state also has nearly 157,000 people enrolled in a program for people over 65-years-old to automatically get absentee mail ballots, and another 5,300 in a similar program for people with disabilities, according to the newswire.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican and Hadskey’s boss, proposed a plan to extend mail balloting to people who test positive for COVID-19. But voting rights advocates argue the plan fails to adequately provide safe voting procedures during the pandemic, the AP reported.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, who is presiding in the case, told lawyers Wednesday afternoon to file file briefs by midday Thursday and said she would rule “as quickly as humanly possible,” according to the AP.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is reportedly pushing for a more extensive plan to expand mail balloting, but is at odds with Ardoin and the GOP-led state legislature. Ardoin has said GOP lawmakers would not approve a plan with more expansive mail-in voting, but Edwards, whose approval is also needed, said the proposed plan doesn’t go far enough to ensure people can safely vote, according to the AP.
Several states have moved to expand mail-in voting programs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats have largely pushed to expand such programs, while President Trump has criticized mail-in voting, making unsubstantiated claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud.