Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 1:29 PM
Doris Maricle // American Press firstname.lastname@example.org
JENNINGS — Early voting for the Nov. 6 presidential election is off to a brisk start in Louisiana, the state’s chief elections officer said Wednesday.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler told members of the Kiwanis Club of Jennings that officials saw a 24.3 percent increase on the first day of early voting across the state Tuesday, compared with the first day of the 2008 presidential election.
More than 39,500 votes were cast in person or by mail-in ballots by Tuesday, compared with 31,700 on the first day of early voting for the 2008 presidential election, he said.
Early voting continues 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, except Sunday, through Oct. 30 at voter registrar offices and other designated polling locations. Voters who are older than 65 or handicapped may request a mail ballot from registrar offices until Nov. 2.
The club is the 65th civic organization Schedler has addressed in the last five months, drumming up support for a high voter turnout in the November election.
“Louisiana ranks fourth in the country of those eligible to vote that are registered, so we are doing an excellent job,” he said. “The problem is we are doing poorly in voter participation.”
Some of the highest voter turnouts in the state have been for presidential elections, he said.
During the 2008 presidential election, Louisiana had a 67.2 percent voter turnout, which was roughly about 9 points above the national average, he said.
“We anticipate hitting that very closely, if not exceeding that for this election,” he said.
Statewide, more than 2.9 million people are registered to vote in this year’s presidential election, he said. The number is down slightly, about 17,000, from the 2008 presidential election.
Candidates and local issues drive voter turnout, he said.
With seven days of early voting and Election Day, voters now have 80 hours to vote, so there is no excuse to miss an election, Schedler said.
He also urged people to familiarize themselves with the ballots, which include nine constitutional amendments and a local option vote limiting school board members to three consecutive four-year terms.
Some ballots will include local municipal elections and tax propositions.
Schedler urged voters to use a smartphone application at GeauxVote Mobile to find information on what is on ballots, voting locations and voting districts.