NEW ORLEANS — The governor and the secretary of state are coming to blows over the state’s lack of an emergency election plan before the November election.
Now, the plan may be settled by a federal judge.
Wednesday evening, Governor John Bel Edwards filed a memorandum in federal court, asking Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick to force Louisiana’s Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin, to use this summer’s COVID-19 election plan in November.
The filing comes just hours after Secretary Ardoin released a statement, saying there will be no extra voting days or polling hours this fall, and blaming the governor’s lack of support.
"His job is to make sure people’s right to vote is protected, and for him to blame it on the governor when it’s his job, I don’t buy it,” said State Representative Mandie Landry, a Democrat who represents New Orleans.
Rep. Landry says one key difference between the summer election plan and Ardoin’s proposed Emergency Election Plan is that it walks back expanded early voting and absentee voting.
“What we had in the summer was a decent plan. I wish it had gone further, but it accounted for the fact that some people under age 65 might still have serious health conditions, or they might have a family member with a serious health condition, that they don’t want to go to a polling place,” said Landry.
Meanwhile, there’s talk of using the Smoothie King Center as a polling location. It’s something that’s been in the works in other cities with NBA teams as well.
New Orleans City Council Member Helena Moreno introduced the resolution Wednesday, writing to WWL-TV in part:
"The right to vote is sacred, and we must do all we can to ensure everyone can safely and easily vote this November.”
Smoothie King Center or not, the governor agrees. He wrote Wednesday along with his filing,
“We owe it to the people of Louisiana to get this emergency election plan right, and the Secretary of State’s plan is just 100 percent wrong.”
Although Ardoin promises to implement the CDC’s coronavirus guidelines at polling locations, like social distancing and masks for workers, a judge may be the one to decide what election day looks like across Louisiana.
A court date is set for next year.
If you have not registered to vote in this year’s election, or need to update your information, you can do so online here.