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Louisianans Vote In Record Numbers For The First Two Days Of Early, In-Person Voting

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Louisianans headed to the polls in record numbers during the first two days of early, in-person voting for the upcoming presidential election.

On Friday and Saturday, more than 258,000 ballots were cast in-person or by mail. That’s the highest two-day cumulative ever and well above the 162,000 cast over the first two days of early voting in the 2016 presidential election.

Mail-in ballots account for 100,000 of the early votes cast so far, but election experts like John Couvillion of JMC Analytics note that that figure includes mail-in ballots accumulated over several weeks. He expects in-person voting to outpace mail-in voting in the eight remaining days of early in-person voting.

The partisan breakdown of early voters suggests more engagement among Louisiana Democrats than in 2016. Through two days of early, in-person voting, 52 percent of those who voted were registered Democrats and 33 percent were Republicans. Over the entire early voting period in 2016, Democrats accounted for 44 percent of the votes cast while Republicans accounted for 38 percent.

The number of Louisianans who cast their ballots early in-person has steadily increased since 2008 — the first presidential election year that option was available here. But there is no doubt that coronavirus fears are a big driver behind this year’s high turnout.

The early voting period for the Nov. 3 election was extended in hopes of thinning out Election Day crowds and limiting the potential spread of the coronavirus at local polling places.

But with only a handful of early voting sites available in each parish instead of dozens of local precincts, the people who went to the polls this weekend dealt with long lines and sometimes close contact with other voters.

Paul Braun was WRKF's Capitol Access reporter, from 2019 through 2023.