Runoff Elections Require Early Preparation for Overseas and Military Voters

Officials in Louisiana are busy planning for the runoff election for U.S. Senator scheduled for December 6. Because runoffs occur so soon after Election Day, the state cannot wait until afterwards to send a second round of ballots. Such a lag would violate the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009, which mandates that ballots be transmitted at least 45 days in advance of the election.

Fortunately, Louisiana uses an instant runoff process, mailing overseas and military voters two ballots prior to the November election: a regular one on which one candidate is selected for the November election, and a runoff ballot that voters use to rank candidates, in case their initial choice does not earn enough votes to qualify for the runoff. These two ballots can be mailed back to the state at the same time, and must be received by 8 p.m. on the Election Day to be counted. Louisiana began using instant runoff voting for absentee ballots for overseas and military voters in the 1990s.

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