Voters in La. wait in line for hours as state sees record early voting turnout

Voters in La. wait in line for hours as state sees record early voting turnout
Many people stood in line Tuesday, Oct. 27 to cast their ballot early. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Shelia Barber waited more than an hour at the Louisiana State Archives to cast her ballot Tuesday, Oct. 27, which was the last day to do so during early voting.

For Barber, the wait was worth it. She says this is the most important election in which she has ever voted.

“It’s like breathing. We’ve got to vote,” Barber said.

It’s all part of a record turnout for early voting in Louisiana. As of Monday, Oct. 26, more than 860,000 voters had already cast a ballot. That’s approximately 300,000 more than the number who voted early in 2016.

“It means people are engaged,” WAFB political analyst, Jim Engster, said. “Last time, our overall turnout on presidential election day was 68 percent. This time, it will be well over 70 percent and a million people voting early, that’s unprecedented.”

According to early voting numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s Office, more registered Democrats have voted than Republicans. Engster does not expect that number to hold though, likely keeping Louisiana a safe bet for President Donald Trump.

“There’s about a 5 percent increase among Democratic voters based on early voting trends, but that’s not enough to win most elections,” Engster said. “The fact is the Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are all voting in higher numbers than they were before and we’ll see in Louisiana whether it makes a difference in a certain election.”

The races he says could be affected by the high turnout include the Senate race, potentially forcing a runoff if Democrats are able to get enough votes to hold Senator Bill Cassidy below 50% plus one vote.

“High turnout spurs Democratic election winners and that is true in many cases, not all cases though, and in other places where races are close, where U.S. Senate races are tight, turnout means everything,” he said, “But in Louisiana, we know Donald Trump will run first on Tuesday, more than likely, and Bill Cassidy will run first on Tuesday.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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