Important Louisiana Voting Information: Your Voice Your Vote
By: Yvette Smothers
NAMI Louisiana Volunteer
Important Louisiana Voting Information: Your Voice Your Vote
On Tuesday, November 3, 2020 there will be an opportunity to use your vote to make a difference. Polls will open at 6am and close at 8pm. Experts say that with proper COVID-19 precautions (wearing a mask, social distancing), the risk of voting in-person is similar to shopping at a grocery store.
In addition to selecting the next President, Louisiana voters will also be choosing a U.S. Senator, all six congressmen, two Public Service Commissioners, two Louisiana Supreme Court Justices, state appellate court judges, all district judges and district attorneys, plus many local offices and several constitutional amendments. To see a list of all the candidates and read information about the constitutional amendments go to voterportal.sos.la.gov and click on Multiparish.
Before heading to the polls, research the candidates and constitutional amendments to determine if they represent your values, particularly those concerning mental health care, resources for mental health constituents and funding of mental health programs and services.
There is nothing more precious than the right to vote. National Voter Registration Week is September 20-27, 2020. The deadline to register to vote in-person or by mail in the state of Louisiana is October 5, 2020. The deadline to vote online through the GeauxVote registration system at sos.la.gov (Secretary of State) is October 13, 2020.
Success in the pursuit of greater access to mental health care, proper treatment, expanded services and laws needed to make change can only be achieved through your vote.
Download the GeauxVote app to have all general election information easily accessible, to view your sample ballot two weeks prior to each election, to see upcoming election dates and to sign up for electronic notifications.
If you are usually ahead of the game you will probably choose to vote early. Early voting will take place October 16, 2020 until October 27, 2020 (excluding Sunday, October 17 and Sunday, October 25) from 8am until 7pm each day.
Go to sos.la.gov for a list of early voting locations. You can also vote early at the Registrar of Voters office.
On Wednesday, September 16, 2020 U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ruled that Louisiana should have more access to absentee mail ballots for the November 3rd presidential election. She wrote “…the pandemic is ongoing in Louisiana and calls for the implementation of measures to mitigate the risks of appearing in person to vote. “Therefore, be aware of possible extensions for mail in ballots.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is October 30, 2020 by 4:30pm (other than military, overseas and hospitalized voters, who have until November 2, 2020). Online Application: You may request an absentee by mail ballot by logging in to the Louisiana Voter Portal and following these steps:
- Click the “Search By Voter” button.
- Type in your First Name, Last Name and Zip Code or Birth Month and Year and then
click the “submit” button
- Click the “Request Absentee Ballot” link found under the Quick Links heading; and
- Complete requested information and submit.
Print and Mail application: You may also print an application to request an absentee by mail
ballot which you can complete and deliver to your parish registrar of voters. Delivery may be by U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, hand delivery or fax. If hand delivered or faxed, the application can only be for you or your immediate family member.
The deadline for a registrar of voters to receive a voted mail ballot is November 2, 2020 by 4:30pm (other than military and overseas voters). Please do not delay returning your mail in ballot. The U.S. Postal Service recommends getting it in the mail at least two weeks before the deadline but the earlier, the better.
Who can request an absentee ballot:
- Over the age of 65
- Temporarily absent from parish of residence
- Working offshore
- Reside in a nursing home, veterans’ home or a hospital for an extended stay for a physical disability
- If you are a student, instructor or professor located and living outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent
- If you are a minister, priest, rabbi, or other member of the clergy assigned outside of your parish of registration, or a spouse/dependent
- If you moved more than 100 miles from the parish seat of your former residence after the voting registration books closed
- If you are involuntarily confined in an institution for mental treatment outside your parish of registration and you are not interdicted and not judicially declared incompetent
- If you expect to be hospitalized on election day and did not have knowledge of the hospitalization until after the time for early voting had expired; or you were hospitalized during the time for early voting and you expect to be hospitalized on election day; or you were either hospitalized or restricted to bed by your physician during early voting and on election day
- If you are incarcerated or expect to be incarcerated in an institution inside or outside of your parish of registration and you are not under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony
- If you are physically disabled, you may apply through the Disabled Application and if not enrolled, enroll in the disability program.
The general election is November 3rd! There is often a lack of what is called “down ballot voting”. Vote the entire ballot!
If you get to the polls and your name does not appear on the list, ask for a “provisional” ballot which will be certified if you are registered.
If you are elderly or disabled and need help just ask for it! Poll workers will be more than happy to assist you!
Voting is the foundation of any democracy. Justice Hugo Black in Westbury v. Sanders (1964) wrote “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.”
YOUR VOICE. YOUR VOTE.