- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The House elections committee Wednesday rejected an attempt to expand early voting hours in Louisiana, voting down a bill that would have added new hours on Sundays.

Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans, said giving people more hours to vote would increase turnout and ensure every Louisiana resident has a chance to cast a ballot.

Louisiana currently holds early voting hours from 14 days to seven days before any scheduled election, excluding Sunday. Brossett’s bill (House Bill 203) would have required early voting to be open for five hours on the Sunday during the voting period.

“It’s about expanding opportunity,” he told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

First Assistant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin raised concerns about the costs of adding more hours, and he said research hasn’t shown that expanding early voting increases turnout.

The committee voted 5-2 against Brossett’s bill, likely killing it for the legislative session.

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The House and Governmental Affairs Committee agreed without objection Wednesday to advance a bill that would allow people not affiliated with a political party in Louisiana to be designated as an independent on their voter registration and election ballots.

Under current law, unaffiliated voters are listed as “no party.”

The proposal (House Bill 193) was offered by Thibodaux Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, who isn’t registered with a political party. It head next to the full House for debate.

But if approved by the House, it could face a difficult time in the Senate. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee deadlocked on a similar bill Tuesday, stalling it in committee.

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In other legislative action:

-The Senate unanimously agreed to a measure (Senate Bill 62) that would require the state’s public colleges and universities to develop a common application for potential undergraduates to apply to the schools. Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said it would help reduce application paperwork for college. The bill heads to the House for debate.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov


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