The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Power Coalition for Equity and Justice submitted a letter to the Louisiana Secretary of State and Commissioner of Elections to call for immediate actions to ensure that the recent tornadoes in southeast Louisiana do not impede voters from participating in the Saturday, March 26 municipal elections. The letter also called for long-term solutions to ensure that voters’ rights are protected in the wake of natural disasters.
The letter calls for the Secretary of State’s Office to take immediate and long-term actions to address election access following natural disasters and severe weather events: In the short term it calls for the Office to:
In the longer term, the letter calls for the Secretary and other stakeholders to support policy and legislative solutions to mitigate the impact of emergencies on voter access. Policies include:
• HB720 (Modernizing Emergency Election Planning): HB 720 provides for the extension of key voting deadlines and accommodations when a disaster occurs too close to an election to provide for a full legislative emergency election planning process. The bill also grants the Secretary of State authority to take other necessary actions to ensure the safe and secure execution of elections in a state of emergency.
• SB343 (Expanding Early Voting Sites): The risks of disasters are mitigated when voting is spread out across multiple days through early voting. SB343 would standardize and increase the number of early voting sites per parish and based on a jurisdiction’s population. The bill would also ensure rural voters can cast a ballot early by mail if their homes are too far to practically vote early in person while they still face similar risks of disasters impeding Election Day voting access.
• HB680 (Public Notice of Poll Site Changes): HB680 would standardize and expand procedures for voters to receive notice of poll site changes following a disaster.
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.