Early voting in Louisiana: More than 250,000 votes cast already

The Smoothie King Center, the arena for the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise, was open for early voting before the Nov. 3 election. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry / Louisiana Illuminator)

More than a quarter million Louisianians have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election. According to data from the Louisiana secretary of state’s office, a total of 258,017 residents had voted by the end of the day Saturday.  That total includes the number of people who showed up to vote in person and absentee ballots that have been received by the state’s registrars.

At the beginning of the month, Louisiana had slightly more than 3 million voters registered.

According to the state’s figures, 134,761 Democrats voted over the first two days, 84,436 Republicans and 38,820 voters who belong to neither of those parties.  

There were reports of long lines across the state, especially on Friday, the first day of early voting, but things appeared to be moving more quickly Saturday morning.  There was no line at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.  A line did extend outside the building at New Orleans City Hall.

A poll worker at the Lake Charles Civic Center told a reporter that a line “zigzagged outside” when the polls opened at 8 a.m. Friday morning, but by that afternoon, there was barely anybody there. According to the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court’s office, “70% of voting precincts will be at alternate locations” following back-to-back hurricanes that hit the area in August and October. According to the clerk’s website, “Residents are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED” to early vote “to alleviate the anticipated wait times on Election Day.”

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office has published a list of early voting locations for every parish in the state. That list is available here.  With the exception of Sunday, Louisianians can early vote every day between now and Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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.