Voters Report More Than 5-Hour Wait At Westbank Early Voting Location

Oct 16, 2020

Louisiana voters encountered long lines and tightly packed crowds when they made their way to the polls Friday on the first day of early in-person voting for the Nov. 3 presidential elections.

At one Jefferson Parish polling location, voters reported seven-hour waits and little social distancing.

Leigh D’Angelo said the line of voters at the Charles Odom Building in Marrero snaked several times through the parking lot and was wrapped around the building when she arrived at about 1:30 p.m.

“Some people here for #EarlyVoting in Marrero, Louisiana have been in line to vote since 8:00 AM. Still in line,” D’Angelo wrote in a tweet. “Others at midway point in line say they’ve been waiting 5 hours.”

When interviewed five hours later, she still had not made it inside the building.

“It’s just sad because people have been bailing for reasons you shouldn’t have to worry about in Jefferson Parish,” D’Angelo said. “They can’t stand for that long. You’re seeing people holding their backs.”

The sun sets on voters in at the Charles Odom Building in Marrero, La.
Credit Leigh D'Angelo

No poll workers or election officials came out to tell the would-be voters the reason for their long wait, D’Angelo said.

Philip Trupiano, the chief Jefferson Parish registrar of voters in charge of the Westbank early voting location was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.

The Westbank polling location is one of three early voting sites that was available to Jefferson Parish voters on Friday. Gretchen Hirt, a Jefferson Parish spokesperson, said Friday afternoon that voters experienced long lines at all three locations.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Scott Walker estimated that wait times at the Joseph Yenni Parish Building in Harahan were two to three hours throughout the day.

D’Angelo said she was eager to cast her ballot early and that she hoped doing so would help her avoid the large crowds she expected on Election Day.

She said she would have voted by mail, but she did not meet the criteria for an absentee ballot. Louisiana is one of five states that will not allow no-excuse absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin said a more robust expansion of mail-in voting was not needed in Louisiana because voters would have ample opportunity to vote safely in-person during the state’s nine-day early voting period.

In Baton Rouge, The Advocate reported that voters waited up to two hours to vote at the newly opened Forest Community Park polling location. In Caddo Parish, voters told The Shreveport Times that they got in line as early as 6:30 a.m.

The state will offer 10 days of early in-person voting Oct. 16 through Oct. 27. Early voting locations are closed on Sundays to give poll workers additional time to tally votes and perform administrative duties.