NEW ORLEANS— It appears as if the heightened interest around the upcoming presidential election has also turned up the temperature on the process of voting. Throw in the pandemic and it’s a perfect storm.
Starting with voter registration, Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal District Court Arthue Morrell says you don’t have much time.
“As far as registering to vote you have to register beyond 30 days of the election,” said Morrell.
So that gives you only until October 3rd to register. In fact, we saw residents registering today in Jefferson Parish this morning. Registrar there, Dennis DiMarco says there’s been a huge surge in folks wanting to cast their ballot.
According to DiMarco, “We’ve seen a dramatic increase. We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in those who want to vote by mail, at the same time they express concern about it.”
There’s good reason to be concerned. The process for requesting to vote by mail because of COVID is pretty involved. There’s the general absentee ballot application but what you need is the COVID-19 emergency ballot application and there a few steps to the process. You can apply online, or request one by mail. Once you fill it out, you must mail it in to the registrar’s office and if approved they will mail you a ballot. Once you’ve completed the ballot, you mail that in. With only about a month remaining, time is of the essence.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told WGNO, “My biggest concern is that people who are going to utilize the absentee ballot program to make sure that they make their request as early as possible. The mail system is a significant issue and and it’s going to be overloaded and that’s my biggest concern”
The question of voter fraud with mail-in ballots has been a hot topic on the campaign trail this year but in St. Tammany Parish, Registrar Dwayne Walls says that while mail-in applications have tripled in the parish, voter fraud in past elections has not been a big problem.
According to Walls, “We verify signatures. For the most part, the fraud that we catch is the husband signed for the wife or vise-versa or something of that nature.”
So the marching orders for voters is clear to take advantage of the next few weeks and if you’re attempting to vote by mail, get the application in soon.