Student Voting Guide | Louisiana

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Louisiana. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

In Louisiana, you must register to vote at least 30 days before Election Day.[1] In 2014, the last day to register for the general election is Oct. 6, 2014. If you have a Louisiana driver’s license or Louisiana state ID card, you can register to vote online by this deadline;[2] otherwise, mailed-in registrations (available to print and mail online) must be postmarked by this deadline.[3]

Beginning on January 1, 2015, you may register to vote any time after you turn 16.[4] However, you must be 18 or older to vote.[5] You can check your registration status online.

Residency

At School.  If you are a full-time student in Louisiana who originally lived out of state, Louisiana law explicitly gives you the right to register at your school address without needed to prove that you intend to remain in Louisiana indefinitely.[6] If you are from Louisiana but attend school in another parish in the state, you can choose to register either at your school address or your home address.[7]

At Home.  Like most states, Louisiana allows you to keep your voting residency even if you move out of the county or state to attend school.[8] The only way you will lose your voting residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in another state.[9]

Challenges to Residency. Students have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Louisiana regardless of whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. Because the law in Louisiana is so clear,[10] it is unlikely that out-of-state students will face residency challenges because of their temporary status.[11] However, if your registration is denied by your parish officials, you are entitled to appeal to a court.[12]

Your eligibility to vote can also be challenged on Election Day by a partisan watcher, a poll worker, or another qualified voter.[13] If this occurs, the commissioners present will by a majority of votes determine whether you can vote.[14] If the commissioners determine that you are not an eligible to vote, you will still be able to cast a provisional ballot for federal offices only if you declare yourself to be registered and eligible to vote in a federal election.[15]

Identification

When you register to vote, you will be asked to provide a Louisiana driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number for verification. If you do not have either number, or the state cannot verify the number you provide, you will be notified by election officials that you will have to supply proof of your identity within ten days before you can be registered.[16] This proof can include any current and valid photo identification a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.[17]

On Election Day, you will be asked at the polls to show a “Louisiana Driver’s License, Louisiana state ID card, or a generally recognizable” photo ID that includes your name and signature.[18] Your student ID will likely count if it includes all of these components, but any ID other than a Louisiana driver’s license or state ID will be assessed by the election commissioner present.[19] If you do not have a photo ID at the polls, you may still vote by signing an affidavit.[20] Voting by affidavit, however, may subject you to a challenge by a watcher, poll worker, or another qualified voter (See Challenge Section above).[21]

Absentee Voting  

You may vote absentee if you expect to be absent from your registered voting precinct on Election Day or during the early voting period.[22] Students are expressly allowed to vote absentee if they attend school outside of their parish of residence and will be out of the parish on Election Day.[23]

Applications to vote by absentee ballot are available on the website of the Secretary of State. You can apply for an absentee ballot by mail or directly online. To receive an absentee ballot by mail in time to vote, the registrar’s office must receive your application (via mail, fax, online, or in person) by 4:30 p.m. on the fourth day before Election Day.[24]

Once you have received and completed your absentee ballot, you must deliver the ballot to the registrar’s office (via mail, fax, or in person) before 4:30 p.m. on the day before Election Day for your ballot to be counted.[25] Merely having the ballot postmarked on the day before Election Day is not sufficient.[26]

If you are a first-time voter in your parish who registered by mail, you cannot vote with an absentee ballot[27] unless you send a copy of your student ID card or a current tuition bill with your application for an absentee ballot.[28] If you a first-time voter and are not a student in an institution of higher learning (i.e. an educational institution other than high school), disabled, or living overseas you cannot register solely by mail – you must either appear in person at the parish elections office with ID documents or vote early or on election day in person.[29]

Early Voting

As a convenience to eligible voters, Louisiana has early voting at parish elections offices —beginning 14 days and ending seven days before an election.[30] The parish office must remain open between 8:30am and 6:00pm, and you will be allowed to vote if you are in line before 6:00pm.  You should check with your parish elections office for the exact dates, times, and locations for early voting.

Last Updated August 15, 2014


[1] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:135(A)(1).

[2] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:115.1.

[3] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:115(E).

[4] 2014 La. Sess. Law Serv. Act 173 (H.B. 501) (to be codified at La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101)

[5] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101(A)(3).

[6] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101(C). 

[7] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101(C).

[8] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101(B).

[9] Id.

[10] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101(C).

[11] Moreover, any challenge to your registration on the basis of your being a student is unconstitutional. See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[12] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:113(A).

[13] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:565(A).

[14] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:565(C).

[15] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:566(A).

[16] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101.1.

[17] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:101.1.

[18] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:562(A)(2). 

[19] See La. Att'y Gen. Op. No. 02-0372, 2002 La. AG LEXIS 435 (Oct. 25, 2002) (“Since commissioners are statutorily required to uphold the election laws, it is upon them to decide if the photo identification [other than a state drivers’ license or state photo ID] qualifies under the law.”).

[20] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:562(A)(2).

[21] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:562(A)(2).  See also La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:565 (A) (challenge rules).

[22] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:1303(B)(4).

[23] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:1303(B)(2).

[24] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:1307(B)(2).

[25] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:1308(C).

[27] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:115(F)(1).

[28] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:115(F)(2)(b).

[29] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:115(F)(1).

[30] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18:1309(A)(1).