Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On the Move Again: Louisiana Shifts Presidential Primary to July 11

Once, it seems, was not enough in the Pelican state.

At the request of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R), Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday, April 14, again issued a proclamation to move the presidential primary in the state back another three weeks. This follows the nearly three month delay the pair agreed to in mid-March as the coronavirus began to spread.

Unlike the majority of other states that have moved primaries and caucuses in the wake of the outbreak, Louisiana appears to be attempting to get enough out of the shadow of the pandemic to hold a primary election as close to usual as possible. The proclamation pushes back the early voting window to June 26-July 4, the deadline to request absentee ballots for most voters to July 7 and the deadline for those ballots to be submitted to July 10 (at 4:30pm). In-person voting remains in a state that requires an excuse (from a list of several reasons) in order to vote absentee. In other words, there is no clear effort to send all Louisiana voters an absentee application much less a primary ballot as has been the case in most of other states that have shifted to later dates during primary season.

That may or may not change in the future as the public health situation develops.

What can be said more definitively is that both the first and second new dates violate the national parties' rules on the timing of delegate selection events. The first fell late and the second even later and even closer to the (admittedly now-delayed Democratic) national conventions. Regardless of the later timing of the Democratic National Convention, Louisiana Democrats will still have to take this change before the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for the panel's approval. Whether the later convention will help accommodate the later primary in the Pelican state will largely depend on how the state Democratic Party tweaks its delegate selection plan to meet the new later date.

The governor's proclamation is archived here.

UPDATE (4/28/20): The Louisiana state legislature passed legislation to provide for a series of coronavirus-related excuses in order to request an absentee ballot. The bill did not, however, remove the need for an excuse. Prospective absentee voters applying for ballot must choose from a list of excuses that includes having a preexisting condition that may put the voter at increased risk of contracting covid-19, being in quarantine, being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, or caring for someone who has the disease. How rigorous the county elections officials will be in processing and accepting those excuses remains to be seen. But the move does provide marginally more relief to voters seeking a safer alternative to vote (even if Republicans in the state legislature scuttled the governor and secretary of state's plans to be more accommodating with vote-by-mail options).

The covid-related absentee application is archived here.

The Louisiana primary date has been changed on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related post:
Louisiana Shifts Presidential Primary Back to June 20 Amid Rising Coronavirus Concerns

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