LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Election Day will look a little different in Calcasieu Parish on Nov. 3.
Many of the precincts throughout the parish were damaged by Hurricane Laura. Out of 123 precincts, 85 of those will be moved to a different location, which is about 70% of the polling places.
Calcasieu Police Jury President Tony Guillory signed an executive order allowing for the emergency relocation of the precincts, which means bigger spaces will be utilized for mega precincts.
Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said places such as the Civic Center and Burton Coliseum will be used for multiple precincts to vote in one polling location.
“Most of the areas outside of Lake Charles and Sulphur, they will be voting in their communities even though some of their precincts may have been changed to a new location,” Jones said. “With these mega centers, it’s gonna make it a lot more clear and easier to understand where you’re gonna cast your ballot on Election Day.”
Jones said this will be an unprecedented election in Calcasieu where people are dealing with both a natural disaster and Covid.
“When we get into a situation like we just experienced in Laura and the leadership and the things that happened, really was based on how you voted," Jones said. "And so, right now, more than ever, we see why it’s important to exercise your right to vote.”
Crowds will be a challenge when following CDC guidelines but Jones said his staff is prepared with the help of additional election commissioners.
“There’s gonna be energy going on," Jones said. “We’re gonna do the best to keep those lines moving as fast as we can."
Those who are interested and qualify to be an election commissioner can sign up.
"You know a lot of the commissioners are still displaced, some still don’t have electricity,” Jones said. "So we’re asking anybody who’s interested in helping out in this historic election to sign up as an election commissioner for this particular election. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need some extra help.”
Southwest Louisiana residents Sam and Joshe said they’re ready to vote, hoping for a change.
“Well I hope everything get better than what it is right now, yeah,” Joshe said.
“Just better. Equal opportunity and fairness,” Sam said.
Jones said the best way for voters to prepare right now is to study the sample ballot available on the website. Voters can fill out the sample ballot on their phones, or write it down and bring it on Election Day to cast their vote quicker and keep the lines moving.