BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Two gubernatorial contenders have joined a growing trend among Louisiana voters — casting their ballots well ahead of Election Day.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and challenger Eddie Rispone filed their votes on Monday, the state’s second day of early voting availability. The first day of early voting saw a record high turnout, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
“I’m always happy to see people vote,” Edwards said Monday from his Tangipahoa Parish polling place. “I think this is a good omen that we’re going to have a good turnout this election.”
“Hunting season is here, so I’ve got to get all my friends out of the woods,” Rispone said from his Baton Rouge voting station Monday. “I’ve got to make sure they’re here early voting this week.”
State figures count 77,059 people who voted when early voting began Saturday. The day-one total is double that of 2015, the last time Louisianans chose a governor. Only the 2016 election — in which the presidency was on the ballot — lured more Louisianans on the first day of voting.
Pollster John Couvillon, who has analyzed early voting habits for a decade, owes the ballooning crowd to convenience.
“People appreciate that it works and is much simpler often times than waiting in long lines on Election Day,” he told BRProud.com in an interview.
Couvillon says the first day’s numbers likely lean rightward. Eight percent more of the state’s registered Republicans voted Saturday than on the first day of early voting four years ago.
Both major Republican gubernatorial candidates see good news in the early turnout so far.
“It’s going to help me in particular, because people are energized,” Rispone said. “They want to see something different.”
“If the rest of the election goes like Saturday, we will be in the runoff,” said John Vick, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s campaign manager, in remarks Sunday to The Advocate.
Edwards, the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor, contends that recent polls place him within just a few percentage points of winning a second term — without a Nov. 16 runoff. He says both Democrats and Republicans will get him past the 50 percent threshold.
“The more educated and informed they are, the more obvious the choice is going to be,” Edwards said.
Early voting runs through Saturday, Oct. 5. Election Day is Oct. 12.
Despite the high early voting numbers, Couvillon expects overall voter turnout to mirror that of 2015, when 1.13 million Louisianians voted.
EARLY VOTING 101
Voters can cast their ballots early through Saturday Oct. 5. They can stop by polling stations between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Voters must bring either a photo ID (driver’s license, Louisiana special ID, digital driver’s license) or a signature on a voter affidavit.
BATON ROUGE AREA VOTING SPOTS
- Gonzales – Courthouse Annex – 828 Irma Boulevard, RM #205
- Donaldsonville – Courthouse West – 300 Houmas Street, Suite B
- Prairieville – Oak Grove Community Center – 37433 Highway 42
EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH
- Baton Rouge – Registrar of Voters main office – City Hall – 222 St. Louis Street, Room 201
- Baton Rouge – Registrar of Voters southeast office – Fire Station Building – 11010 Coursey Blvd.
- Baton Rouge – Louisiana State Archives Building – 3851 Essen Lane
- Baker – Registrar of Voters – 2250 Main Street, Baker
- Central Branch Library – 11260 Joor Road, Central
EAST FELICIANA PARISH
- Clinton – 11048 Bank Street
- Plaquemine – 58050 Meriam Street
- Livingston – 29938 S. Magnolia Street
- Denham Springs – Denham Springs-Walker Branch – 8101 US Highway 190
- New Roads – Courthouse – 211 East Main Street
- Greensburg – 48 Kendrick Street
- Amite – Courthouse – 110 N. Bay Street, #103
WEST BATON ROUGE
- Port Allen – Courthouse Annex – 883 7th Street, Suite A