FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–June 24, 2020

Judge’s Ruling Means Louisiana Voters Won’t Get Same Access to Ballot as Most Other Americans

On Monday, June 22, a federal judge ruled that several plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit seeking to expand mail-in voting access for this year’s elections did not have standing in the case. The ruling ultimately means that Louisiana will not join the large majority of U.S. states who either permanently provide “no-excuse” vote-by-mail or who have expanded their program to all voters in response to COVID-19.

NEW ORLEANS, LA | June 24, 2020—While 33 states already offer “no excuse” vote-by-mail, and several more states have expanded their vote-by-mail program to all voters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that Louisiana will not join their ranks. On Monday, June 22, a federal judge ruled that two lawsuits brought by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which could have led to a full expansion of vote-by-mail access for Louisiana’s July 11 and August 15 elections, would not be allowed to go any farther. Instead, Louisiana voters will only be eligible for vote-by-mail if they meet certain criteria.

Judge Shelly Dick, Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, ruled that several plaintiffs, including the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ–http://powercoalition.org), didn’t have standing in the case because they hadn’t suffered an injury under the current Emergency Election Plan. Her ruling only dealt with the issue of standing and did not speak to the underlying issues of the case.

“With most Americans understandably worried about their health in the middle of a pandemic, and polling locations presenting a unique public health challenge, mail-in voting has gained a lot of traction across the U.S.” said PCEJ Communications Director Peter Robins-Brown. “Recent polling indicates that approximately two-thirds of Americans think every registered voter should be able to vote-by-mail.”

Yet, most Louisiana legislators, along with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, have made it clear that they have no interest in extending that right to every voter in our state, even during a global pandemic, while COVID cases and deaths continue to rise. They showed their distaste for the idea when they convened in April to discuss the proposed Emergency Election Plan. They showed it again in May when they killed multiple bills, including House Bill 419, by Rep. Mandie Landry, that would have expanded the state’s existing vote-by-mail system.

“The Power Coalition will continue to fight to ensure that every Louisianan has safe access to the voting booth,” according to PCEJ Executive Director Ashley Shelton. “While we are disappointed in the decision in this case, it shows that we are willing to push on every front–through community organizing, in the political arena, and in the courts–to give real voice and power to Louisiana’s traditionally disenfranchised communities.”

What: Federal judge rules that plaintiffs in voting access case don’t have standing to sue, essentially ending the legal fight to expand vote-by-mail to all Louisiana voters.

Contacts:

Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, ashelton@powercoalition.org

Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, prb@powercoalition.org