NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Hurricane Zeta has left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark with power outages that are expected to last multiple days -- and with a presidential election less than a week away, it has election officials also assessing the damage.
Zeta made landfall Wednesday afternoon, six days before voters head to the polls for election day in Louisiana. The state’s extended ten-day early voting period ended on Tuesday, the day before Zeta’s landfall.
Governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference Thursday that the amount of power outages close to an election has parishes assessing damage and power availability to polling places. He said the state has had an election task force that was activated for the response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta in Southwest Louisiana, but they will also be looking at Southeast Louisiana.
“They’ve identified already the polling places without electricity, the clerks of court that currently don’t have electricity, and the registrar of voters that don’t have electricity -- those will be a priority,” he said. “As we get closer to Tuesday [Election Day], obviously, a determination is going to have to be made whether we’re going to be able to power those locations back up or not.”
Governor Edwards said decisions are going to have to be made in advance of Election Day far enough to relocate polling places and notify voters. He urges Louisianians without power and who have experienced damage to pay attention to the Secretary of State’s office and their local officials for any changes in polling places.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said in a statement Thursday their biggest challenge is the lack of electricity in many places in Southeast Louisiana.
“Power outages remain the most widespread challenge and we are working with Entergy and other utility companies to assess and restore power to our election infrastructure,” Ardoin said. “We will have a more thorough grasp of the damage to individual polling places over the next 24-48 hours and we will coordinate with clerks of court and local governing authorities if any emergency polling place relocations are necessary.”
Louisiana saw record early voting turnout with 964,181 ballots being cast during the early voting period. Election day is November 3 with polls open statewide from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m.
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