Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who is in charge of Louisiana elections, spoke at the Livingston Parish Republican Women’s Club meeting Sept. 2.

Ardoin said that in past elections, 90% of voting was done in person. He said that since the advent of the coronavirus, accommodations to the process have been instituted and will continue to be made so voting is safe.

In July, 19% voted absentee, in part, because of COVID-19, he told the group. Absentee balloting requires more handling and time to prepare for counting the vote, he said. Each ballot must be received, either by mail or drop-off, and the identity of the voter verified. The ballots are then sorted before counting.

If time is not allowed for proper preparation, there will be delays in counting and reporting election results, Ardoin said, predicting as much as a four-day delay.

Hurricane Laura has increased the challenges to accommodate eligible voters, Ardoin said. Voting sites in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes were mostly destroyed and the people displaced. Hurricane Laura was Shreveport’s first Category 1 hurricane.

Ardoin said the challenge is to locate the displaced and ensure each has an opportunity to vote. Absentee voting accommodations are also being made for first responders assisting in the cleanup effort.

The secretary of state also spoke on his dispute with Gov. John Bel Edwards over how to accommodate voters during the pandemic. He discussed the difference between absentee voting and mail-in voting and said that "ballot harvesting" is not allowed. 

He recommended that people who vote absentee should drop off the completed ballot or mail it early because the post office is having difficulties with timely delivery. 

Ardoin also said because of the increased demands on the voting system, there may be a shortage of poll workers. He asked for volunteers to serve as election workers and told the group information and an application can be found at www.sos.la.gov.