Louisiana voters kick off early voting in presidential primary

Thousands of Louisiana residents headed to the polls on Saturday — the first day of early voting in the presidential primary here.

While the headlines this weekend have been about the fallout from the South Carolina Republican primary and Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, early voting continues in Louisiana through Saturday. Voters can cast their ballots daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Primary election day is March 5.

According to data from the Secretary of State’s Office, about 25,000 people already have cast ballots in the March 5 elections — with registered Democrats slightly outpacing registered Republicans. About 11,500 of those were in-person voters on the first day of early voting. Others mailed in ballots.

Only voters who are registered to one of the two political parties will be able to vote for their party’s nominee in the presidential race because, unlike most elections in Louisiana, the presidential primary is a closed primary.

Early voting locations vary by parish and frequently are not the same as the election day voting location. A list of early voting locations is available on the secretary of state’s website.

New Orleans had the most people come out to vote in person on Saturday, followed by Baton Rouge and Monroe.

In the Democratic primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, plus a handful of lesser-known candidates. Louisiana has 58 Democratic delegates at stake.

On the Republican side, 47 delegates are up for grabs. The GOP’s slate of candidates includes businessman Donald Trump, of New York; U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Marco Rubio, of Florida; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Dr. Ben Carson, of Maryland.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race Saturday night after failing to gain traction in the South Carolina primary. His Louisiana team was headed by St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, state Sen. Conrad Appel, of Metairie, and state Rep. Nancy Landry, of Lafayette.

The crowded GOP field could be further whittled before Louisiana’s primary votes are counted on March 5. The Louisiana primary date follows the Super Tuesday SEC primary on March 1.

The Louisiana Democratic Party and the GOP also have closed state central committee and parish executive committee elections on the ballot.

Voters who aren’t party affiliated may still have local elections to vote in.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, parishes with open local races include Acadia, Beauregard, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberville, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Red River, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and West Baton Rouge.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.

For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.

More Stories