Early Voting Turnout Saturday Seems to Set Local Record; Amendments Explained

Early voting in Winn Parish is now under way for the Oct. 14 election and activity through the first three days (Saturday, Monday and Tuesday) have been brisk, according to Registrar of Voters Bryan Kelley.

In that time, 801 have walked through the doors of the Registrar of Voters Office, Winn Parish Courthouse, while another 135 have sent in absentee ballots through the mail, for a total of 936.  That number broke down by race to 745 White, 185 Black and 6 Other.  By gender it was 421 male and 514 female.  By party the numbers were 296 Democrat, 433 Republican and 207 other.

Kelley noted that on Saturday, Sept. 30, there were 407 in-person voters which appears to be a single-day record.  He said it would be hard to speculate whether the high turnout is due to voter interest in the Oct. 14 ballot or if it’s a reflection on growing participation in early voting since the practice has been publicized by the Secretary of State’s Office.

By way of comparison, the turnout for early and absentee votes four years ago in the 2019 gubernatorial primary was 1,747.  The 936 so far this time is 53.5% of that total, with four more days including another Saturday of early voting ahead.

Early voting will continue through this Saturday, Oct. 7, with voting hours from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Sample ballots are on the wall, outside of the Registrar’s office.  Kelley pointed out that changes were made in some ward/precincts due to recent redistricting  which may affect some polling places or police jury districts of votes.  Voter ID cards were mailed to affected voters but anyone with questions is invited to call the Registrar of Voters Office at 628-6133.

Besides the state and local candidates, there are four constitutional amendments on the Oct. 14 ballot.  Louisiana’s Public Affairs Research Council explains them as follows:

Amendment 1.  A “Yes” vote supports banning financial (and other) donations from foreign or other nongovernmental sources to administer elections.  A “No” vote supports allowing election officials to decide whether to accept financial (or other) donations from outside sources to conduct elections.

Amendment 2.  A “Yes” vote declares the highest level of constitutional protection for freedom of worship in a church or other place of worship, requiring courts to apply the strictest level of judicial review to challenge when government bodies restrict access.  A “No” vote supports keeping current constitutional protections, which provide that the free exercise of religion is a fundamental right subject to the highest level of scrutiny under Louisiana law but do not specifically single out house of worship.

Amendment 3.  A “Yes” vote supports requiring lawmakers to use 25% of any state surplus to pay retirement debt for the four state retirement systems.  A “No” vote supports leaving the current requirement that lawmakers spend 10% of any state surplus to pay retirement debt for two state retirement systems through 2029.

Amendment 4.  A “Yes” vote supports allowing local government officials to remove a property tax exemption from nonprofit organizations that lease houses and have repeated public health or safety violations.  A “No” vote supporting maintaining the current system of property tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations, including those that have repeated public health or safety violations.  

The registrar suggests that residents may wish to download the Secretary of State’s GeauxVote app to view their sample ballot and monitor Election Night results.