FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–October 30, 2020
In Wake of Hurricane Zeta, Power Coalition, NAACP LDF, ADL ask Sec. of State Ardoin to Extend Absentee Voting Deadlines
With Hurricane Zeta having knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans in the run up to Election Day on Tuesday, November 3, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and Anti-Defamation League South Central Region.
NEW ORLEANS, LA | October 30, 2020—Hurricane Zeta blew through Southeast Louisiana on Wednesday evening, causing widespread damage and knocking power out for millions of people in the region, many of whom haven’t had their power restored yet. That devastation also came at an inopportune time in terms of voting, as Election Day, and the deadline for requesting and returning absentee ballots, is nearly upon us.
With that in mind, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ) joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Anti-Defamation League South Central Region to send a letter (see below, and please contact us if you would like to see a pdf version) on October 29, 2020, asking Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to extend the absentee ballot request and return deadlines back.
The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice works to build voice and power in traditionally ignored communities. We are a coalition of groups from across Louisiana whose mission is to organize in impacted communities, educate and turn out voters, and fight for policies that create a more equitable and just system in Louisiana.
What: Voting rights organizations send letter to Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asking him to extend the absentee voting deadline in the wake of Hurricane Zeta and resulting power outages.
When: October 30, 2020
Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, email@example.com
You can find the full letter here:
Sent Via Email
October 29, 2020
Hon. John Bel Edwards Governor of Louisiana PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Hon. Kyle Ardoin
Secretary of State
Louisiana Department of State 8585 Archives Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
RE: Preventing the Disenfranchisement of Louisiana Voters After Hurricane Zeta
On behalf of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, the Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”), and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”), we write to urge you to prevent the disenfranchisement of eligible voters in Louisiana who, because of widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Zeta, will not be able to request and/or return their absentee ballots in time to meet the existing deadlines.
As you are aware, Hurricane Zeta has left over 475,000 Louisianans—approximately one in ten residents of the state—without power. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot via the General and Disabled Applications is tomorrow, October 30 at 4:30PM CST. The corresponding deadline for returning ballots is November 2 at 4:30PM CST. Given the widespread power outages, in addition to displacement and property damage,2 affected residents will be unable to access the Louisiana Voter Portal on the Secretary of State’s website and will also face difficulty and delay in returning their absentee ballots on time.
In response to this emergency, with the understanding that thousands of residents will not have power returned until this weekend at the earliest,3 we urge you to immediately issue an emergency order (1) extending the deadline for requesting all absentee ballots to November 2 at 4:30PM CST and (2) extending the deadline for returning absentee ballots to November 3 at 8PM CST. These extensions would align the deadlines for all absentee ballots with the existing deadlines for military, overseas, and hospitalized absentee voters, preventing the disenfranchisement of thousands of Louisiana voters. In addition, we urge you to immediately notify all parish election officials and the public of this extension via all available channels, including the Secretary of State’s website, the GeauxVote voter portal, social media, radio, text messages, email, and any other available platforms.
We look forward to your immediate action, and respectfully request a response by October 30 at 9AM CST. Thank you.
Catherine Meza, Senior Counsel
NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
Power Coalition for Equity and Justice
ADL South Central Region
CC: Mark Cooper, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor
Dr. Adren Wilson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Planning, Office of the Governor
1 Della Hasselle, More than 475,000 without power as Hurricane Zeta races through southeast Louisiana, NOLA.com (Oct. 28, 2020, updated 7:52PM CST), https://wwwnola.com/news/hurricane/article 4fb4040a-196f- 11eb-bde0-7f60d2ccac80 html.
2 Susannah Cullinane and Jason Hanna, ‘We’re just a target.’ Zeta is fifth named storm to make landfall in Louisiana this hurricane season, CNN (October 29, 2020, updated 12:35PM ET) https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/29/us/louisiana-zeta-five-named-storms/index.html.
3 469,000 buildings without power; Entergy CEO: most will be restored through the weekend, 4WWL (Oct. 29, 2020, updated 1:13PM CST), https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/local/orleans/400000-entergy-customers- without-power-and-it-could-take-several-days-to-get-it-back/289-c839d9b0-382f-42bc-a01b-a422a338391a