Early voting begins in Louisiana

Long lines reported across the state

The Smoothie King Center, the arena for the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise, is open for early voting this election. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry / Louisiana Illuminator)

The early voting period for the November election began at 8 a.m. Friday morning, and reports of long lines and people waiting several hours to vote were reported across the state, including Shreveport, Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Dale Sibley the Caddo Parish Registrar of Voters, told the Shreveport Times, “Turnout has been tremendous,” describing a line that “wraps around the block and then comes almost back around to our building. I spoke with some of the voters in line and thanked them for their patience and their willingness to do what is necessary in order to cast their vote.”

The Advocate reported that lines at the Forest Community Park polling site in Baton Rouge were up to two hours long.

In New Orleans, there were reports of more than four hours at the Algiers Courthouse. New Orleans television and radio broadcaster LeBron “LBJ” Joseph, shared a video on Twitter showing long lines New Orleans voters in cars and on foot who showed up to vote early at the Louisiana Voting Machine Warehouse on Chef Menteur Hwy.

Early voting lasts through Oct. 27, Louisianians can early vote from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. any day of the week except Sunday.  The 10 days of early voting is more than Louisianians typically get.  The three extra days were ordered by a federal judge after a lawsuit that alleged that Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin had not taken the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic into consideration when creating an emergency plan for the state’s November and December elections.

In addition to extending the number of days that Louisiana residents have to early vote, the judge also allowed an expanded use of mail-in ballots.  The secretary of state’s website has published the list of valid reasons to request a mail-in ballot here. And the various application forms for voters looking to receive an absentee ballot

Absentee ballot applications must be received at the appropriate registrar’s office by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 unless those applications are for “military personnel and/or their dependents; U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S.; or voters that are hospitalized.” Those applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2.

The secretary of state’s office has released an instructional video explaining how to complete an absentee ballot.  Watch that video below.