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Grade TL;DR

Over the past two years, the Louisiana Legislature has made numerous attempts to pass anti-voter restrictions. Despite those attempts, the governor has repeatedly stood up for Louisiana voters and vetoed anti-voter legislation. Additionally, the secretary of state has begun to withdraw the state from its participation in ERIC, which helped to keep the state’s voting rolls more accurate and secure. Because of this, Louisiana received a C on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Louisiana Started in 2020

  • Automatic Voter Registration: No
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: No
  • Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: Excuse-Only
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: ID Requested, but not Required

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Louisiana as of 2020, we considered the state a middle tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other middle tier states.

How Our Tier Compares:

  • COVI (2020): 27th
  • EPI Score (2020): 42nd
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 6/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): FAIR

2021: Two Years Ago

Legislative Action

During the 2021 session, the Louisiana Legislature attempted to pass several restrictive voting measures. Fortunately, Governor Edwards successfully vetoed them all. The remaining election-related changes that became law were uniformly positive.

  • H 388 allows parishes, with prior approval from the secretary of state, to begin pre-processing ballots three days before the election.
  • H 581 allows parish election officials to offer additional branch offices for early voting.
  • H 167 revises the procedures for removing deceased voters from the rolls.
  • H 286 expands the early voting period during presidential elections to run from 18 to 7 days before the election.
  • H 378 makes clarifying changes to Louisiana’s existing law on the restoration of voting rights to ensure that individuals on probation for felony convictions will not lose their right to vote.
  • SR 22 establishes a study group to analyze the voting rights of individuals incarcerated before trial and the procedures available for those individuals to cast ballots.

Executive Action

  • Governor Edwards stood up for voters and vetoed several anti-voter bills during the 2021 session, including:
    • S 224, which would have required absentee voters to include a state ID number and a partial social security number on their absentee ballot application and ballot.
    • S 63, which would have required voters to return their absentee ballot directly to an election office employee.
    • H 704, which would have expanded political parties’ ability to appoint poll watchers, and created “super poll watchers” that could watch at any polling place in their appointed parish.
    • H 138, which would have required registrars to conduct a supplemental yearly canvass of the voter rolls to identify voters that have potentially moved. These voters would be shifted to an “inactive” list until their address is confirmed.
    • H 20, which would have prohibited election officials from accepting private funds for elections.

2022: This Past Year

Legislative Action

Although the Legislature attempted to pass additional anti-voter restrictions in 2022, Governor Edwards successfully used his veto power to stop them from becoming law. The Legislature also passed several small pro-voter reforms into law.

  • H 423 requires public high schools and charter schools to provide high school seniors that are 17 years old the opportunity to register to vote.
  • H 1074 directs the secretary of state to establish rules for uniform processes for the review and curing or rejection of absentee ballots.
  • H 1082 gives the secretary of state the authority to unilaterally make changes to an election that will take place within 45 days of the declared state of emergency.
  • SR 151 establishes a “Task Force on Early Voting to study ways to increase early voting in Louisiana,” and provide recommendations for changes.

While almost all of the anti-voter bills were ultimately vetoed, one did manage to become law.

  • S 144 specifies that hand-delivered ballots can only be returned to an election office employee at a registrar’s principal or branch office or an early voting location.

Executive Progress

  • Governor Edwards again vetoed several anti-voter bills passed by the legislature during the 2022 session, including:
    • H 359, which would have prohibited local election officials from following any federal directives or guidance or accept or disburse any federal election funds without prior approval from the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.
    • S 350, which would have required election officials to reject absentee ballots with missing “affidavit flap” information including missing voter signature, missing mother’s maiden name, or a missing required witness signature.
    • H 35, which would have allowed election officials to conduct annual voter list maintenance that would purge voters from the rolls for not voting or engaging in other voting-related activities for 10 years.
  • Since 2014, Louisiana has been a member of ERIC, a membership organization made up of over thirty states that provides advanced voter list maintenance services. Since 2014, ERIC identified more than 16,000 deceased voters and 54,000 voters who moved out of the state, enabling Louisiana elections officials to take appropriate action to remove them from the voter rolls. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Ardoin suspended the state’s participation in ERIC in early 2022, apparently in response to a blog post on a conspiracy theory website. The state’s withdrawal from ERIC will result in less accurate voter registration records and higher costs incurred by taxpayers to replace the services that ERIC provided.