BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is rescheduling its fall elections because of Hurricane Ida’s far-reaching damage, estimates of weeks-long power outages and wide displacement of residents across the southeastern parishes.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced Wednesday that Gov. John Bel Edwards has agreed to push back the election dates by five weeks. The statewide election scheduled for Oct. 9 instead will be held Nov. 13, and a runoff as needed will be scheduled for Dec. 11.
Ardoin thanked Edwards in a statement.
“This will allow our staff and local partners more time to properly prepare for a statewide election while ensuring the integrity of our election processes and that our voters’ traditional voting habits are as undisturbed as possible," the Republican elections chief said.
The fall ballot has a statewide proposal to overhaul Louisiana’s income tax structure, along with several special elections to fill vacant legislative seats and municipal elections in New Orleans, including the mayor’s race. Without rescheduling, early voting would have started Sept. 25 — before some areas are expected to see power restored from Ida's destruction.
Edwards' office didn’t immediately comment Wednesday on the decision to delay the elections.
Ardoin had asked the Democratic governor for the postponement in a meeting a day earlier. Ardoin said Ida's damage would make holding the election as originally scheduled “virtually impossible without impairing" election integrity.
Utility officials have estimated it could take until the end of the month or longer to get power up and running in some of the parishes hardest hit by Ida, which roared ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 29. Workers who staff polling locations, in some instances, have evacuated or been displaced because of the storm's wind and water damage. Postal service remains disrupted in some areas, creating problems for absentee ballot delivery. And dozens of polling sites suffered damage from the storm, according to the secretary of state's office.
Louisiana’s last hurricane-related election delay was in 2008 after Hurricane Ike, according to the secretary of state’s office. For that storm, elections in Cameron and Terrebonne parishes were pushed back several weeks. After Hurricane Laura wrecked southwestern Louisiana last year, thousands of people saw their polling sites shifted for the presidential election, and Calcasieu Parish created several consolidated mega-polling sites.
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