Dismal early voting turnout in Louisiana suggests big win for Republicans, pollster says

Apathy among Black voters and Orleans Parish spells losses for Democrats

By: - November 14, 2023 10:49 am
Polling location sign that reads, "Early Voting Here"

Louisiana’s early voting period for the Nov. 18 runoff election ended on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Photo credit: Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana’s early voting results indicate upcoming victories for Republicans in the remaining statewide races on the ticket, snuffing out any hopes the Democratic Party might have had to win at least one seat. 

The 2023 general election, which includes races for secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer, saw its seven-day early voting period end Saturday with an unusually low turnout of roughly 25% of registered voters.

“The overall story is that a low-wattage election season has lost even more of its wattage with respect to early voting for the general election,” pollster John Couvillon said. “There’s just a serious lack of interest.”

According to results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, the total number of early votes cast for the general election was 260,156. That figure represents a 26% drop from early voting just a few weeks ago ahead of the Oct. 14 primary and a 48% drop from the 2019 general election. 

The absence of a runoff after Jeff Landry clinched the governor’s office last month has contributed to some of the apathy, but more significant factors include an unusual lack of interest among Black voters and low-energy campaigns from the Democratic Party throughout the season, Couvillon said. 

Inconvenient truths about voting in Louisiana

This election has seen more Republicans cast early voting ballots than Democrats and far fewer Black voters heading to the polls — factors that are atypical in Louisiana. 

That spells good news for Republican candidates Nancy Landry for secretary of state, Liz Murrill for attorney general and John Fleming for state treasurer. Couvillon expects all three will win easily Saturday over their respective Democratic opponents Gwen Collins-Greenup, Lindsey Cheek and Dustin Granger.

The lack of concern has been particularly notable in Orleans Parish, which usually competes with East Baton Rouge Parish for the highest turnout in the state. For this election, Orleans had only the sixth highest turnout for early voting — less than half that of East Baton Rouge and 20% lower than Caddo Parish, Couvillon said.

“About the only candidate I’ve seen running ads in the New Orleans area is Liz Murrill,” he said. “I’m not seeing anything from any of the Democrats. It’s really strange and has led to just embarrassingly low turnout.”

Although turnout has been low across both parties, it has disproportionately come from the Democratic side, Couvillon said. 

The best performance among the Democratic candidates has so far come from Granger in the state treasurer’s race. For the Oct. 14 primary, Granger received more total votes, 321,000, than any other Democrat on the ticket, including the party’s leading candidate for governor, Shawn Wilson, who received just 275,000.  

“There’s scant information about the races,” Couvillon said. “It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Election Day is this Saturday, Nov. 18, and includes the three statewide races, some districtwide races for the state legislature and state school board, and various local government offices throughout Louisiana. All voters will have a ballot that includes at least the three statewide races (secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer) and four proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Voters can find their voting location and other information on the Secretary of State’s website, GeauxVote.com, or by calling (800) 883-2805.


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. Since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at WAFB/CBS, the Sun Herald and the Enterprise-Journal, winning awards from the SPJ, Associated Press, Mississippi Press Association and McClatchy. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Muller is a New Orleans native, Jesuit High School alumnus, University of New Orleans alumnus and a U.S. Army veteran and former paratrooper. He lives in Southeast Louisiana with his two sons and wife.