Early voter turnout lower than expected in Louisiana

Early voter turnout lower than expected in Louisiana
Updated: Dec. 4, 2016 at 9:44 PM CST
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EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The saying goes, "the early bird gets the worm," but if that's the case, most birds in Louisiana are coming up empty handed. Early voting turnout for the general election was very low according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Just over 171,000 people showed up state-wide, a far cry from the roughly 257,000 that showed up for the 2015 general election.

"There's a lot of factors at play here," says Meg Casper, press secretary for the Secretary of State. "I think probably number one is just voter fatigue. When you talk to voters out there, they're just tired of the election cycle. Certainly the presidential election cycle was very high profile. Lots of people felt like it was nasty, and I think they were just ready for the election season to be over."

Casper says turnout is usually high when you have a U.S. Senate race on the ballot, such as this year's battle between Foster Campbell and John Kennedy.

"With open U.S. Senate seats, we usually see a small increase in turnout," Casper says. "What we've seen with early voting numbers, we're expecting turnout to be less than 30 percent."

In East Baton Rouge Parish, around 22,000 people voted early, approximately 4,000 less than in the 2015 general election. WAFB political analyst, Jim Engster, says low turnout is a good sign for Republican mayoral candidate, Bodi White, who is taking on Democrat, Sharon Weston-Broome.

"The conventional wisdom is that lower turnout usually favors a Republican, so it should be a horse race, perhaps a photo finish between Bodi White and Sharon Weston-Broome," Engster says.

Engster still says that Broome is the favorite, but he wouldn't be shocked to see White pull off an upset. "Bodi White winning the East Baton Rouge Parish mayor's election wouldn't be as big a surprise as Donald Trump winning the presidential election and Donald Trump won," Engster says.

Mail-in ballots are still being counted, so early voting numbers could change slightly. Polls open on Saturday, December 10 at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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