In a new era of curbside grocery delivery, one good part of a new emergency election plan is to allow parishes to do the same thing with absentee ballots during the big fall presidential turnout. More people used absentee ballots in summer elections and if there are concerns about mail delivery on time, it’s good that election officials meet the public in the parking lot and accept them, safely, by hand.
It’s one bright spot in the overall weak plan from Louisiana’s top election official, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.
As Gov. John Bel Edwards said correctly, the Ardoin plan — which might as well be called the Republican anti-turnout plan — is “woefully inadequate” to the coronavirus emergency which still exists.
That the public health emergency is very likely to be with us in a couple of months is obvious. As much as we do not like mask mandates and other changes in our daily lives, we think most people are reconciled to wearing the darn things, as well as limiting gatherings in the name of safety and social distancing.
But no American should be satisfied with not voting and doing so more safely is within the power of Ardoin’s office. He should get the enthusiastic support of other Republican elected officials for making more participation possible during this emergency. Instead, Ardoin and GOP leaders in the Legislature want to dial back the turnout-promoting safety elements of the summer elections.
What part of ‘emergency’ do these GOP leaders not understand?
With President Donald Trump barking all the time about mail-in voter fraud — which may occur somewhere, although experts say it’s a phony fear — there is no other reasonable conclusion than that Louisiana officials are toeing a party line. The revised plan was approved 8-6 Wednesday in House committee on a nearly party-line vote.
Edwards, a Democrat, is right that the summer elections plan is generally the way to go for the fall. It only very modestly expanded absentee ballot requests. More people took advantage of them, as will certainly be the case in November, during a presidential-size turnout, but the notion that whatever increases in turnout will swamp the president’s high level of support among Louisiana voters is silly.
Edwards had blessed the summer plan, which itself was approved by the GOP-controlled committees of the Legislature, even as liberal groups said it did not go far enough. The new plan seems almost to pick a fight, when the summer plan worked.
Legislators should listen to less right-wing talk radio. And liberal groups should remember that the summer plan is for an emergency situation. It is not a template for future elections and not a precedent for Louisiana adopting mail balloting, or other permanent changes to state law.