Nearly 100,000 ballots have already been cast in Louisiana’s presidential primary, following a week of robust early voting turnout.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, more than twice as many people voted early this year than did in the 2012 presidential primary — likely due to the heated contests on both sides of the aisle.
In the Democratic primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The most recent poll showed Clinton with a significant lead over Sanders in Louisiana, but both candidates have held events in Louisiana that have drawn thousands.
There hasn’t been a poll on Louisiana’s GOP primary in several months, but that race too also has had several candidates stump across the state, including GOP front-runner Donald Trump, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson.
About 49,526 Democrats have already cast ballots and so have 41,889 registered Republicans, either in person during the early voting period or by absentee ballot. Unlike most Louisiana elections, only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP presidential primary, and only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary here.
For comparison, about 234,000 people voted early in last fall’s gubernatorial primary, which is open regardless of party registration.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is predicting an overall 20 percent to 25 percent voter turnout when the Louisiana primary is decided Saturday. The turnout rate in 2008, when President Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination for the first time, was about 20.3 percent of registered voters.
“Another factor to consider is that Super Tuesday may dampen turnout on Saturday if voters feel like the outcomes have already been determined by other state’s primaries,” he said. “Either way, having close to 100,000 voters already participate in a presidential primary in Louisiana is significant and shows there is heightened interest in national politics, without a doubt.”
In the heavily-Democratic Orleans Parish, the early vote tally topped the total combined early ballots cast in 2008 and 2012, according to the Registrar of Voters.