How Amendments Work
If two-thirds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a constitutional amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot. If approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution within twenty days of the election, unless the amendment itself has a different effective date.
Learn more about how the Legislature works with this guide from the ACLU of Louisiana and see below for the ACLU of Louisiana’s position on the amendments that will be on the October ballot.
“Do you support an amendment to prohibit the use of funds, goods, or services from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source to conduct elections and election functions and duties unless the use is authorized by the secretary of state through policies established in accordance with law?”
The ACLU of Louisiana opposes this amendment. This amendment would ban private or foreign money from being used for the purpose of conducting elections. Generally, elections are funded by state and local budgets. However, Louisiana’s election administration suffers from limited budgets and inadequate staffing. Louisiana’s voting machines are from 2006—old enough that when they falter, Ascension Parish’s Clerk of Court says it’s often impossible to locate replacement parts. These challenges were exacerbated during the 2020 election, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to unexpected expenses related to mailing and processing an increased number of absentee/mail ballots and sudden demands for more cleaning and hygiene supplies. Larger in-person voting facilities were needed to accommodate social distancing. To meet the additional needs during the pandemic, philanthropic funding for local election offices was made available by private foundations and philanthropists. Louisiana’s secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, initially urged local election offices to apply for these grants. Despite claims by supporters of the amendment that private funds could result in the funding organization having undue influence over elections, election administrators have said that funding from private foundations and donors were a “lifeline.” Until Louisiana properly funds its election administration, private grants for elections will be necessary.
Also worth mentioning: In 2021, the legislature passed an earlier version of this bill, prohibiting private funding for elections, while also passing a spending bill allowing itself to receive and spend money obtained via private donations.
“Do you support an amendment to provide that the freedom of worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection?”
The ACLU of Louisiana opposes this amendment. This amendment is unnecessary because Louisiana already has a law that protects religious freedom, including the right to worship. And if the government allegedly violates this fundamental right, Louisiana courts already apply the most protective standard of review: strict scrutiny. In addition, Amendment 2 is poorly drafted, and the ballot language does not fully describe the proposed change to the Louisiana Constitution. Amendment 2 would require courts to apply strict scrutiny “unless there is a higher level of protection or scrutiny recognized and applied by the court.” Because there is no higher level of scrutiny than strict scrutiny, it is unclear what this language means. As a result, this amendment could cause confusion, and it could encourage courts to invent new legal standards out of thin air. Finally, because “other places of worship” is undefined, some have expressed concern that it could cover locations that are not houses of worship.