Harding v. Edwards

Date Filed: 08/03/2020

On August 3, 2020, LDF filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana challenging Louisiana’s failure to ensure all eligible voters can vote safely in the upcoming elections amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, LDF and co-counsel filed a lawsuit challenging provisions of Louisiana’s absentee and early voting laws.

Less than two months into Louisiana’s attempted reopening and roll-back of COVID-19 protection measures, the rate of infection climbed significantly. Despite this increase, Louisiana failed to extend even the baseline modifications that were in place for the primary and municipal elections to protect voters during the November and December 2020 elections.

The lawsuit challenges both Louisiana’s restrictions on the use of absentee mail-in ballots and its reduction of the early voting period from thirteen days during the July and August 2020 elections to seven for the November and December 2020 elections. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and three individual voters.

In September 2020, a federal court prioritized health and safety and ruled in favor of Louisiana voters. The ruling extended the early voting period by three days and provided voters at highest risk of COVID-19 with a mechanism to vote by mail.