Published: May 20, 2020
By: Catherine Hunt, LSU Manship School News Service
For the second day in a row, Republican legislators on Wednesday shot down legislation that would expand mail-in voting in Louisiana.
The state Senate and Governmental Affairs refused Wednesday Senate Bill 486 by Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, on a 6-3 vote, with all Republicans opposing and three Democrats supporting.
A similar measure by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, was killed Tuesday by 9-5 party-line vote in the House and Governmental Affairs.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, many states have expanded voting by mail in efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Even before the virus, voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington voted entirely by mail in all elections, and red states such as Alaska, Montana, Utah and Wyoming have switched to mail-in ballots for this year’s presidential primary.
Michigan, a key swing state, announced Tuesday that it would send applications for mail-in absentee ballots to all its voters in this year’s elections, and Nevada recently announced that its primaries would be conducted through mail-in ballots.
President Donald Trump, who opposes mail voting, threatened on Wednesday to withhold federal funds from the states for doing so, though federal officials do not have control over state election rules. Trump won Michigan in 2016, while the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, narrowly carried Nevada. Both states have Democratic governors.
Trump and other Republicans claim that expanding mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud, although national data shows voter fraud is rare, especially when using mail-in ballots.
Democrats have pushed to expand voting by mail to give access to voters who may be concerned about going to the polls, especially with the risks from the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana’s absentee voting laws allow registered voters to vote by mail, but only under certain conditions such as military deployment, being away for college, or being 65 years of age or older. Barrow’s bill proposed removing these requirements.
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