Yesterday we got a good example of a Louisiana statewide official who is willing to stand for reason and the rule of law, which is such a departure from what comes out of the Governor’s Mansion that it’s worthy of comment. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced that Louisiana’s elections this fall will be held as normal.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Wednesday that he won’t be seeking to expand absentee-by-mail voting, increase the early voting period or enact a coronavirus emergency plan for the fall elections, amid the state’s latest COVID-19 surge.
Since the pandemic began, the state has offered more ways for people to absentee vote in a half-dozen elections — including last year’s presidential and congressional elections — and boosted the number of early voting days for some of those elections because of the risks of the coronavirus.
But Ardoin said he doesn’t intend to submit an emergency plan for the Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 elections to lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards for consideration. He said only a tiny percentage of voters used the prior COVID-19 emergency rules to submit absentee ballots, and he said vaccines are widely available for those interested.
“Now that vaccinations are more prevalent than they were in the spring election, folks have a choice,” Ardoin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They can vaccinate. They can mask up. They can do both. But we’re not going to be pursuing any emergency election plan at this time.”
The Republican elections chief said his office will continue to make sure that masks are available at polling places, that physical distancing is used when voters are waiting in line and that sanitation practices are followed.
Far lower turnout is expected for the fall elections than in last year’s presidential election, when 70% of Louisiana voters cast ballots.
The October ballot will have a proposal to overhaul Louisiana’s income tax structure, along with several special elections to fill vacant legislative seats and municipal elections in New Orleans, including the mayor’s race. The November election has runoffs as necessary. Early voting for the October election begins Sept. 25.
Ardoin noted that no COVID-19 outbreaks have been tied to polling places in prior elections, and he said he’s received “zero calls from any legislator” requesting an emergency election plan. Enactment of an emergency plan would require backing from the Democratic governor and the majority-GOP Legislature to take effect.
“The more folks every day that are getting vaccinated creates a more positive environment for everybody,” said Ardoin, who is fully inoculated against COVID-19.
The really interesting question here, seeing as though the big election in October will be the New Orleans mayor’s race, will be what effect LaToya Cantrell’s vaccine passport nonsense will have on voting given the position Ardoin has taken. Because you have a conflict brewing between the two.
A while back when Cantrell announced her vaccine passport scheme, state senator Stewart Cathey sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Landry wondering about this question – what happens when somebody who isn’t vaccinated and doesn’t have a three-days-old-or-less negative COVID test to show arrives at a polling place for the October 9 elections in Orleans Parish?
You don’t have the constitutional right to tell that person they aren’t allowed in. It doesn’t matter that you’re Yass Queen LaToya Cantrell. State law, and particularly state constitutional law, supersedes local-yokel dictat.
The guess here is Ardoin, and maybe Landry, will slap the hell out of Cantrell on this question. That’s just our speculation.
And when they do it’s going to get really fun, because if you can bypass her vaccine passport scheme to vote, then you can do it for lots of other things essential to daily life – something which will surely get litigated.
And if Kyle Ardoin ends up being the guy who breaks Yass Queen LaToya’s vaccine passport nonsense, he’ll deserve a lot of thanks from people who never considered giving it to him.
That’s public service. Would that we had more of it [particularly in Louisiana’s state senate].