Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Shorter poll hours up for debate

A near-annual attempt to shorten voting hours on election day headed to the full House for debate, with unanimous support Wednesday from the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

By Thursday, the bill that would shorten hours by opening polls at 7 a.m. rather than 6 a.m., was on its second reading in the state House of Representatives and should be up for a vote next week.

Supporters like Webster Parish Clerk of Court Holli Vining say the long day makes it difficult to attract poll workers and the state offers enough early voting days for people to access the polls despite their work schedules.

"It's such a long day," Vining said. "And while we would love to have the day shortened by a couple of hours, even one will help workers. Voting ends at 8 p.m., but most of them aren't finished until 9."

Vining said she has held pre-election meetings with all commissioners working Saturday's closed party Presidential Primary.

"During that meeting, I informed them of the status of HB 209," she said. "The feedback that I received was that while they would like to see poll hours changed to 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., they were very hopeful for the passage of this bill. I'm sure that sentiment is echoed by commissioners across the state."

Opponents said the change could limit voting opportunities for people, like shift workers who have 12-hour work days.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Louisiana's election day is the longest in the country, and he said data shows no correlation between voter turnout and the length of the election day.

Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, is the author of HB 209.

"By no means do we want to limit people's right to vote," Foil said.

House Bill 209 can be viewed in its entirety at www.legis.state.la.us.






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