Early voting in Louisiana’s delayed election begins Saturday

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — After a five-week postponement, early voting begins Saturday in Louisiana’s hurricane-delayed fall election, with four constitutional amendments the only thing facing all voters statewide.

The weeklong period for voters to cast their ballots in advance of the Nov. 13 election will feature some changed voting locations in areas damaged by Hurricane Ida and may require some advance homework for people to figure out just what the constitutional changes would do.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

The two most prominent amendment proposals involve taxes.

One proposal would start the process for centralizing sales tax collections through a commission, rather than dozens of local government agencies as is currently done. The other would set in motion a complicated tax swap plan that would get rid of personal income tax and corporate tax deductions for federal income taxes paid in exchange for lowering the state’s overall income tax rates. It also would eliminate the corporate franchise tax for small businesses.

The other amendments would allow some local levee districts to increase their taxing authority and let lawmakers cut more deeply into protected funds when the state faces a budget deficit.

MUNICIPAL RACES ON THE BALLOT

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office said 21 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes have only the constitutional amendments on the ballot: Caldwell, Cameron, Concordia, DeSoto, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Livingston, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Red River, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Webster, West Baton Rouge, and Winn.

But the other parishes have local races and propositions facing voters. Among the most high-profile are the municipal races in New Orleans, where voters will choose a mayor, sheriff, city council members, and more. Some parishes have special elections to fill three vacant legislative seats.

In any race where no candidate tops 50% of the vote, the leading two vote-getters will face each other in a Dec. 11 runoff.

DELAYED ELECTION

The election was rescheduled from Oct. 9 after Ida wrecked parts of southeast Louisiana when it struck as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29.

Ardoin, a Republican who works as the state’s chief elections officer, requested the five-week delay because of the widespread power outages, displacement of residents, and damage to polling locations. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to the postponement.

WHERE TO VOTE

Early voting runs through Nov. 6, excluding Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at early voting locations around the state.

People in the parishes hardest-hit by Ida and trying to determine if their voting site has moved can check the secretary of state’s website at geauxvote.com, log into the state’s GeauxVote mobile app or call 1-800-883-2805.

Among the early voting changes, Ardoin announced a temporary polling site at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans for those wishing to cast ballots ahead of Election Day. That will be in addition to other early voting sites around the city — and it’s not tied to an Ida disruption. Ardoin said that site was added because of the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to offer another early voting location to help with social distancing for New Orleans voters.

Ardoin’s office said masks are recommended at all polling locations, but not required.

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