Louisiana does well in voting ease study

The American Press

Making voting more convenient should be the goal of every state in the union, and Louisiana has done a better job than most Southern states. However, the Brennan Center for Justice said over the last few years new restrictions on voting have become popular across the country.

Since 2010, 24 states have enacted limitations on voting, according to a report in The Times-Picayune. Tougher voter ID requirements have been put in place by 13 states, 11 have made it harder to register to vote and 7 have cut back on early voting opportunities.

Voter fraud is the excuse states use for tightening voting restrictions, but it has been difficult for most of them to produce concrete evidence that voter fraud is widespread. Opponents say Republicans favor more restrictions to suppress voter turnout by groups that typically vote for Democrats.

Among conservative states making it more difficult for people with criminal convictions to get their voting rights restored, Louisiana was again an exception. The Legislature passed a law taking effect March 1, 2019, that says those individuals will have their voting rights restored after a five-year trial period.

Tom Schedler, the former secretary of state who resigned over sexual harassment allegations, made voting easier rather than seeking more voting restrictions. He made it easier for voters to register online and made mail-in voting more available.

The Brennan report said Louisiana, Delaware, Kentucky and Maryland are the only states in the South that haven’t enacted new voting restrictions. It added that Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas — three of Louisiana’s neighbors — will have stricter voter identification laws in place this fall than they did in the 2016 presidential elections.

Northern Illinois University looked at 35 different factors involved in the time and effort it takes to vote and Louisiana ranked 20th among all 50 states. Voting registration ease and early voting access were two of those factors.

Louisiana scored the highest, by a large margin, of any state in the Deep South. Texas was 46th, Alabama 39th and Arkansas 34th. No early voting takes place in Mississippi, and it was dead last.

Some additional improvements like more early voting time may be needed, but the Brennan Center for Justice report confirms that Louisiana is doing its part to make voting easier and more convenient.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones.

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