With no statewide offices on the ballot, Louisiana’s general election on Dec. 10 features three constitutional amendments. One would restate that only U.S. citizens can vote in Louisiana, which is already part of the state constitution. The other two would give the state Senate the authority to confirm a handful of executive appointments by the governor. There is also a general election for a seat on the Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION DAY

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) on Dec. 10, a Saturday.

HOW LOUISIANA VOTES

In November, when the rest of the country was holding general elections, Louisiana was holding the state’s unique “jungle” primary. Under this system all candidates, regardless of party, ran against one another on the same ballot. If no candidate topped 50% in that primary, the top two vote-getters advanced to Saturday’s election.

Only one race tabulated by AP advanced to the general election, for the District 3 seat on the state’s Public Service Commission. The contest will feature two Democrats — Lambert Boissiere, who got 43% of the vote in the primary, against Davante Lewis, who got 18%.

Most Louisiana voters cast ballots on Election Day in November, with a little less than 30% casting advance votes, either in person or by mail. That was down from 45% in the 2020 election.

As of Dec. 2, nearly 70,000 people had voted, with most voting in person. In-person early voting runs through Saturday.

The state has placed a number of restrictions on mail-in voting. People can vote absentee if they are unable to vote in person on the day of an election, but an excuse is required. Permanent absentee status is available to older adults and the permanently disabled. A notary and/or witness signature is required with a returned absentee ballot.

Democrats tend to do well in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but Louisiana is considered a Republican state overall. In both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, the Democratic candidate won only 10 of the state’s 64 parishes. President Donald Trump won the state with 58% of the vote in both contests. In November, Republican Sen. John Kennedy easily won reelection with more than 61% of the vote.

DECISION NOTES

The AP will count votes and declare winners in four contests in Louisiana. The AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. The AP will make a call only when it becomes clear that a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory. Should a candidate declare victory before the AP makes a call, we will cover newsworthy events but will note that the AP has not declared a winner and will make clear why we believe the race is too close or early to call.

The AP may call a race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome. In Louisiana, a candidate or party may request the recount of absentee and early voting ballots by filing a written request by the end of the fourth day following an election.

Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?

A: State legislation in 2021 allowed all parishes to process absentee ballots before the election; pre-election processing was previously limited to parishes with 1,000 or more absentee ballots. That should speed up the count on election night.

Another piece of legislation that year required all parish election offices to remain open until all precinct results, absentee and early results have been submitted. Another created a Voting System Commission and required that any new voting system procured by the secretary of state follow certain requirements, including that voting system servers be located in the state and that the system produce auditable, voter-verified paper records.

Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

A: Counting of most races is usually completed the night of the election or very early the next morning, although some races may remain uncalled if the margin is too close. In the November election, AP counted 96% of votes by midnight ET on election night, and more than 99% of votes by 2 a.m. ET.

Q: WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WITH EARLY RETURNS?

A: More Democrats than Republicans have voted early so far, continuing a trend from previous elections. In most parishes, early votes are reported shortly after polls close, so those results may provide a skewed view of what the final tally will look like.

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