On both banks of the Mississippi, throughout the Florida Parishes and across Louisiana, the April 9 election actually begins Saturday with the start of early voting.
A Baton Rouge-area seat in the state Legislature is up for grabs, as is the mayorship and several council seats in Baker. The Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center is taking a millage back to voters in five parishes who recently defunded the unit. The Ascension Parish School Board is also asking voters to renew a 15.08-mill property tax to pay for building projects, while some Livingston Parish voters will be asked for money to construct new schools.
Though not every resident will have an item at the polls, voters in 39 of the state’s 64 parishes will be asked to cast a ballot. Sample ballots and locations of early polling sites are available at voterportal.sos.la.gov.
Slightly more than 100,000 Louisianians voted early in the presidential primary earlier this month out of about 2.3 million ballots cast, according to information on the Secretary of State’s Office website.
That office, which oversees elections, doesn’t predict how many people will vote early ahead of time, but spokeswoman Meg Casper said the low percentage has been steady across recent elections.
The highest office to be decided in the current Louisiana election is the 29th District representative in the state Legislature, which is open due to the death of Rep. Ronnie Edwards. Five candidates, all Democrats, have qualified for the seat, which covers areas of north Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge Parish. All the candidates have been invited to address voters at a forum Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Charles R. Kelly Community Center at 3535 Riley St.
Elsewhere, Democrats Leroy Davis and Darnell “DA1” Waites, are competing to succeed Harold Rideau as mayor of Baker. Rideau is stepping down after 12 years in the position. Three of the city’s five council seats are also being contested.
To the east, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington Parish voters will again be asked whether to give financial support to the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center. Voters in the region crushed an attempt last year to renew the center’s 3-mill, 10-year property tax, which received a majority of the vote in only 24 of 372 precincts. Since then, sheriffs and court officials have campaigned for the tax, which provides 85 percent of the funding for the detention center.
Springfield and Albany-area voters will also be asked whether to support taxes to build a new high school and elementary school, respectively, and make other improvements to their school districts.
Ascension Parish has a school tax on the ballot, as well — the renewal of a 15.08 millage parishwide to support repair and construction projects in the growing district.
In West Baton Rouge, the millage renewal will be for the Parish Health Unit. Authorities are asking voters to renew a 1.75-mill property tax to keep the unit running.
Iberville, East Feliciana and West Feliciana voters can take a break this election cycle, as there are no offices or issues up for vote in those parishes.
A bit farther from the capital city, voters in Point Coupee, Tangipahoa and St. James parishes will decide on taxes to cover fire protection, recreation, libraries, road lighting and other services. However, many of those items are limited to districts, not parishwide, so individual ballots will differ.
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