Reader Questions: When will I know my mail-in vote is counted?

Photo by Cindy Shebley via Creative Commons

Readers continue to have lots of questions about mail-in voting. No surprise there. More people than ever are voting that way nationally and in Louisiana. Unlike other states, Louisiana’s absentee voting program is mostly unchanged. Those votes still need to be turned in by Nov. 2. If they arrive later than that, they won’t count.

While the number mail-in votes delivered has ballooned, election officials generally don’t expect much disruption.

We’re here to help Lafayette get through a disrupted election. Send us your voting questions here.

Q: My ballot says “pending.” How can I be sure that my ballot will be counted? Bill

Answer: Letters to voters who turned ballots that need to be corrected — ”cured” — went out Wednesday, and workers with the Registrar of Voters office began making calls to those voters to get them to come in person to fix any potentially disqualifying errors. Most of the time, voters forget to sign the ballot themselves or include a signature from a witness, or detach the security envelope. 

More than 10,000 mail-in ballots were requested in Lafayette Parish, a record to be sure. As of Thursday, just over 8,000 were received by the registrar. Because voters can change their mind and vote in person, we won’t know until all the votes are in on Election Day how many actually cast their votes by mail. 

That means your vote won’t be marked “counted” until Election Day. In the meantime, look out for a call or letter from the registrar to ferret out any possible issues with your ballot. 

Q: When do they count mail-in votes? — Danielle Moroux

Answer: Election officials will begin counting mail-in ballots on Election Day, as required by Louisiana law. And election officials don’t expect the historic volume to delay the count past Election Day. Election workers have begun preparing and organizing the mail-in ballots for the count, a normal part of the mail-in voting process. They use a scanner to count the mail-in ballots. 

Keep in mind the polls will likely close late on Tuesday. So long as people are waiting in line, polling commissioners keep the machines running. Long early voting lines have kept the polls open past 10 p.m., according to Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret. It may take a little longer than usual to finish the count, but the tally is expected to be complete on Election Day.