Republican lawmakers vote by mail to restrict ... vote by mail

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Louisiana's legislature blocks efforts to allow more absentee ballots amid coronavirus pandemic

World | The Independent

While under the state's stay-at-home orders, Louisiana lawmakers voted by mail against the state's voters' ability to vote by mail in upcoming elections.

Republicans in the state's legislature objected to a plan that would allow absentee ballots for people who fear being exposed to the coronavirus, claiming that mail-in voting is ripe for voter fraud — despite voting for the legislation by mail.

Voter fraud claims follow statements from other Republican leaders and Donald Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that mail-in ballots "substantially" increase the risk of voter fraud, saying that voters "cheat" and that the process is "dangerous".

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He also has claimed that "thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room" are "signing ballots all over the place" — despite no evidence supporting his conspiracy.

Louisiana's initial plan, drafted by Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, would allow mail-in ballots to people who are wary of appearing in public during the pandemic, as well as people age 60 and older, people impacted by a stay-at-home order, and people caring for a child or grandchild whose school or child care has closed.

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But those terms were stripped from the plan that passed the state's House and Senate.

The new plan only allows mail-in ballots for people who are sick or caring for someone with Covid-19 or who are at a higher risk of serious medical issues if exposed to coronavirus.

Louisiana's House delegation approved the measure by a vote of 62-to-39. The Senate supported the plan by a vote of 31 to 8.

State leaders agreed to delay April's election to July, joining other states that postponed elections in the wake of the pandemic.

In a statement, Secretary Ardoin said that the plan "serves as a pragmatic and temporary response to the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging our nation".

"This is a great result for Louisiana's voters and election workers, especially those most susceptible to the Covid-19 virus," he said.

On Tuesday, less than a quarter of Ohio's registered voters turned out for its largely mail-in primary election, the first national test for the process. Joe Biden received roughly 72 per cent of the vote.

The primary was initially scheduled for 17 March but was postponed to prevent voters from crowding the polls during the public health crisis.

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