For Immediate Release: June 16
Power Coalition and partners help to pass democracy expanding bills in Louisiana.
Baton Rouge, LA– While states across the country pass voter suppression bills and limit access to the ballot box, Louisiana passed 3 important democracy expanding pieces of legislation this session.
Louisiana had one of the most stringent voting booth time limits in the nation. Voters were only allowed to be in the voting booth for 3 minutes, after which they could be asked to leave regardless of whether they completed the ballot. This rule was disproportionately used to ask people of color to leave the booth, and hurt elderly populations, people who speak english as a second language, and those who despite being able to cast a vote independently may need additional time. Voters in Louisiana will now have 6 minutes to cast their ballots, doubling the amount of time so that they can cast their ballots comfortably and with confidence.
Early voting numbers have expanded greatly in the past decade in Louisiana. In the 2012 presidential election, over 315,000 people voted early in-person, and in 2016, over 468,000 people voted early in-person, and in 2020, every single parish saw increased in-person early voting and over 817,000 people voted early in-person. Despite this trend, Louisiana only has 7 days of in person voting compared to the national average of 19 days of early voting. To ensure that people have as many options as possible to cast their vote, Governor Edwards has signed into law a bill to extend early voting for presidential elections, increasing the number of days of early voting from 7 days to 11 days.
Power Coalition for Equity and Justice led the work to extend early voting and increase the amount of time people have in the voting booth.
Act 127 allows roughly 50,000 people annually to remain untouched by the restrictive voting rights restoration process that has been in place the last few years. Now, “incarceration” after a felony conviction is what triggers loss of voting rights, rather than the “conviction,” ensuring people who are sentenced to probation will not have their rights suspended. Advocacy for this new law was led by VOTE.
“In the words of late Congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis, ‘The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy.’ The Power Coalition and partners are thrilled to have led this work. We will continue to advocate for policies that increase democracy and protect the overall voting process for all Louisianians,” says Janea Jamison, Director of Programs for Power Coalition. “While other deep south states are passing voter suppression bills, we are proudly able to expand voting access in the state of Louisiana.”
Who: Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, VOTE, and Partners
What: New laws on the books to extend early voting, increase the amount of time you can spend in the voting booth, and make it easier for people with convictions to register to vote.