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How to Vote in Louisiana's Primary Elections

Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan Casts His Vote

Louisiana residents finally will be able to vote July 11 in the state’s primary elections. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, state officials were forced to postpone the April 4 presidential primaries, giving them more than three months to figure out how to keep voters safe.

As usual, residents age 65 and older will be able to vote via absentee ballot. Government officials also have relaxed absentee ballot restrictions slightly, now allowing people to use absentee ballots if they have a serious medical condition or if they are under a medically necessary quarantine as a result of coronavirus exposure. Those who develop coronavirus-related symptoms as well as those who are caring for an individual under a coronavirus-related quarantine also may apply for absentee ballots, according to guidance from the state government.

“Historically, Louisianans age 50 and older have decided elections,” Denise Bottcher, director of the AARP Louisiana state office, said in a statement. “But many older voters may be rethinking their health safety at the polls due to the coronavirus. It’s important that they act now to get the information they need to make an informed decision.”

Because Louisiana was among the states hardest hit in the pandemic, voting on July 11 will look slightly different than in past primaries. Here’s how to safely cast your ballot.

When are the state’s primary elections?

Voting will take place 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 11. Registered Democrats and Republicans will be able to cast ballots for their presidential candidate of choice in their party’s primary. Members of the American Independent Party also will be able to vote in their own presidential preference primary. Voters not registered to any of those three parties will not be able to participate. As part of municipal primaries that also will take place on July 11, residents of some parishes will be able to vote in local contests.

Those who vote in person on Election Day should refer to the state’s voter portal to make sure that their designated poll location has not been moved because of the pandemic.

Can I still register to vote?

June 10 was the deadline for Louisianans to drop their voter registration forms in the mail or stop by a government office register in person. But eligible Louisiana voters still can register to vote via the state’s GeauxVote Online portal until Saturday, June 20.

Can I vote by absentee ballot?

State legislators thwarted efforts to more widely expand absentee ballot eligibility. A proposal circulated by Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin initially included provisions to extend absentee ballot eligibility to residents ages 60 to 65, though that plan was never signed into law. However, voters who are sick with COVID-19, under a medically necessary quarantine, awaiting medical advice after developing coronavirus-like symptoms, or taking care of individuals under quarantine can apply for an absentee ballot.

Older adults, students and those who are hospitalized or temporarily absent from their parish July 11 also can apply for an absentee ballot. Consult the secretary of state’s guidelines to determine whether you are eligible.

Registered voters may request an absentee ballot until July 7. The state’s registrars of voters must receive the ballot by July 10.

What are my options for early voting?

Louisiana voters do not need a verified reason or excuse to vote early. Early voting is June 20 through July 4, and registrars of voters will be open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Consult the state’s early voting locations guide for your particular parish.

Is voting in person safe?

Coronavirus infections still are spreading throughout the state and the rest of the country. Louisiana’s stay-at-home orders expired in May. Voters in certain parts of the state — such as New Orleans — may be required or encouraged to wear masks or face coverings at their polling locations.

Is voting by absentee ballot safe?

Yes, absentee ballots are safely and securely handled and have been distributed effectively for years.

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