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Steve Gleason and friends walk in the Krewe of Hermes as it proceeds along Charles Ave. Uptown New Orleans, La. Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. The krewe presented 32 floats with the theme ÒCarnival at the French Opera House.Ó The floats were built by Blaine Kern and designed by Henri Schindler. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Louisiana lawmakers have long been quick to bestow praise upon Steve Gleason, even passing laws in the name of the former New Orleans Saint who has become an icon of resilience.

But Gleason delivered a stern message on Twitter that Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s plan will endanger caregivers in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

"With the new mail-in ballot rules, a sole caregiver does not qualify to vote by mail. That can be dangerous to mandate the only caregiver to leave & be exposed at polls," Gleason wrote. "Our friends with ALS in Louisiana asked me to bring this to your attention. Can you fix this?"

Gleason has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that robs the person of immunity protection as well as muscle control, leaving the inflicted mentally sharp and sentient but unable to walk, write, speak, even sit up on their own. Bound, literally, to a wheelchair, Gleeson isn’t the only one pushing back against the election plan Ardoin admits was designed in a way the Republican majority in the Legislature would approve.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has refused to sign the plan, even as it appears the GOP-led Legislature will approve it.

The heart of the issue lies with mail-in balloting, which Democrats want to expand and Republicans, following the lead of President Donald Trump, want to curtail. In recently-held summer elections, Republicans convinced Ardoin to roll back mail-in balloting to a list of people that included people those with serious medical conditions, those who were quarantined or those who were caring for someone who was quarantined, among others.

Republican lawmakers argued none of those reasons are needed for the November presidential election, when turnout will soar compared to the summer elections. The only excuse voters can use for obtaining absentee ballots--assuming they don't meet the normal requirements--is a positive test for COVID-19.

The plan was approved by two state legislative committees last week. The full Legislature will vote on the plan in the coming days – by mail. 

Louisiana likely to have no coronavirus protocols for the election unless courts step in

Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com