Louisiana elections chief: Turnout for Oct. 24 election could dip below 50 percent _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Voters come and go in a blur of motion on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, as early voting continued at the State Archives Building on Essen Lane.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is predicting less than 50 percent of Louisiana voters will participate in the Oct. 24 governor’s election based on early voting trends.

Early voting interest is running slightly less than in last year’s congressional elections where there was a 51.5 percent statewide turnout, Schedler said, providing an indicator of what’s to come.

In addition, Schedler said polls have shown continuing numbers of undecided voters in recent weeks. “I’ve never seen it quite frankly this bad, this late,” he said. “If the gaps start closing, that will give me more confidence they will go vote.”

“I believe it’s going to be less than 50 but I really believe we will be close,” Schedler said Friday.

Only 5 percent of Louisiana’s 2.89 million voters have opted to vote before election day with two days left in the early voting period, according to up-to-date elections statistics.

As of the close of voting Thursday, there had been 147,879 early votes cast. Contrast that with the 2012 presidential election with 356,603 early votes and an ultimate 69 percent voter turnout.

This time around, East Baton Rouge voters are participating more heavily than those in any other parish, registering 8 percent, or 12,218, of the early votes cast. St. Tammany is next with 9,329 early votes followed by Jefferson, 8,408, Orleans, 7,401, Lafayette, 5,656 and Tangipahoa, 5,361.

Early voting continues through Saturday. Early voting locations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For a complete list of locations visit https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/EarlyVoting.