The strong interest in the Nov. 6 presidential election is signaled in the numbers of those who voted in week-long early voting period, which ended Tuesday.
By Andrew Bell abell@bastrop enterprise.com The strong interest in the Nov. 6 presidential election is signaled in the numbers of those who voted in week-long early voting period, which ended Tuesday. The Morehouse Parish Registrar of Voters Office calculates that 3,617 votes were cast in person or by mail as of Wednesday at noon. That number, which includes 264 mail-in ballots, barely surpassed the last presidential election's early voting in 2008 by 55. Morehouse Parish Registrar of Voters Sandra Thomas said that early voting went “smooth,” and people were “quite polite.” “People were lined up to vote and about the most time they had to wait was 30 or 40 minutes,” Thomas said. The office estimates that between 15 percent and 17 percent of all Morehouse registered voters turned out for early voting. Across Louisiana, nearly 12 percent of the state's 2.9 million registered voters participated, according to the Associated Press. Carol Jones, the Chief Election Officer for Morehouse Parish and parish Clerk of Court, said that Morehouse, citing past elections, could find out its ballot results on Tuesday no later than 9:30 p.m. The ballot, beyond presidential choices, includes choices on term limits for public school board representatives, nine constitutional amendments and several bond taxing proposals, depending on the voter's ward. A voter has the prerogative to not cast a vote on every choice, but he or she must vote on at least one of them in order for that vote to be counted, Thomas noted. Polls open at 6 a.m. at all of the 55 precincts in Morehouse. They close at 8 p.m. Registered voters must vote at their assigned precinct and must present a personal identification. Jones said there are a lot of people who only vote every four years and redistricting could alter a voter's precinct, leading a voter to the wrong location. “When that happens we instruct our poll workers to call the Registrar's Office immediately,” Jones said. “It's paramount.” “If your name is on the books and you have an ID, you vote. We want to give the voter every chance to do so.” While parishes in the southern areas of Louisiana were the first to receive the latest voting machines from the secretary of state's office, Morehouse and others rely on “veteran machines,” though Jones said that they have been updated in the past year. Jones, who became Chief Election Officer in 2000, said there is a lot of work and planning for elections behind the scenes. There's a lot of ongoing training and retraining, she said, for election commissioners, as well as orientation for custodians at places where booths will be made available. “Election days are always fun, and generally are smooth for us,” Jones said, echoing Thomas' sentiments. Voters wanting to verify their respective precinct should call the MP Registrar's office at 281.1436.