One million early ballots? Louisiana inching closer, election office reports

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Roughly a third of Louisiana’s three million registered voters have already voted in the Nov. 3 elections, the state’s election office announced Wednesday.

A total of 964,141 Louisiana voters have submitted ballots so far — including 817,897 in person and 146,284 by mail — according to Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.

“A pandemic or two hurricanes did not prevent nearly one million Louisianians from exercising their right to vote during early voting,” Ardoin said in a statement Wednesday.

There’s still a chance of Louisiana surpassing one million early ballots this year. The state is taking requests for absentee ballots through Friday. Mail-in ballots themselves are due Monday for most voters (and Election Day for overseas and military voters).

“Louisiana voters are energized and eager to make their voices heard in critical elections from the presidency down to local races,” Ardoin said.

A pie chart shows registered voters who have voted absentee, have voted in-person and have yet to vote in Louisiana’s 2020 election cycle, as of Tuesday, Oct. 27. (SOURCE: La. Secretary of State’s Office)

Ardoin cites interest in the 2020 presidential race between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Louisiana voters must also decide whether to reelect U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, and five U.S. House members; voters in north Louisiana must choose who succeeds Rep. Ralph Abraham, an Alto Republican not seeking another term. Seven proposed amendments and one proposition also occupy the statewide ballot.

The popularity of early voting this fall is showing in day-to-day totals, which have well surpassed those from recent years. Tuesday, the last day of Louisiana’s 10-day in-person early voting window, spawned Louisiana’s highest single-day early voting totals in four years — with 98,782 voters. Ten of the state’s 12 busiest early voting days since 2016 came this year.

A chart ranks day-to-day early voting turnout since 2016. (SOURCE: La. Secretary of State’s Office)

Early voting is also more popular this year because Louisianians have had more time for it. A federal court required that Ardoin add three days of early voting — and one additional hour each day — this year due to the pandemic. Under the same ruling, the state is also granting virus-related excuses to vote by mail this year.

More than 400,000 Louisianians have voted early in 2020 than in 2016. Political pollster John Couvillon credits both voter interest and a disdain for potentially long Election Day lines — especially given how contagious the virus is.

“Assume that 200,000 are people who would have voted anyway,” Couvillon said. “Then another 200,000 is a true increase in turnout.”

Ardoin’s office projects the state’s overall turnout in 2020 to reach 71 percent. Such would surpass the 68 percent total from 2016, the last time the presidency was on the ballot.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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