Fire Station 15 in Metairie looked like a special destination on Saturday morning as Amy Schayot walked up to her precinct, where a scrum of reporters and camera people were gathered.
Her glamorous red dress was not for the reporters but for a Saturday morning wedding, said Schayot, 41, who wanted to cast her ballot first.
Yet Schayot, like Precinct 90’s commissioners, has long been accustomed to an election day spotlight. Their polling place is home base for longtime public official U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who is running a hard-fought race against state Rep. John Bel Edwards for governor.
Vitter and his family walked up to the click-click of cameras around 9:30 a.m. The candidate, who said he was optimistic about the election’s outcome, gave a thumbs-up to the commissioners, who told him the turnout had been steady that morning, with more than 50 voters already casting ballots.
Then, like many other Louisiana voters, Vitter walked into the voting booth with his son.
Inside Lake Area High School in Gentilly, voter Erika Coleman, who turned 43 on Saturday, said she would celebrate two things that night: her birthday and a new governor, to succeed Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will be out of office in two months.
Throughout the morning at Lake Area, neighbors hugged and kissed. And families arrived to vote together.
Ashley Meyn, 29, carried her toddler Graham into the Gentilly school, teaching him how to make his voice heard, she said. She and her young son cast their ballot one booth over from her mother, Marilyn Meyn, 57.
“You can’t complain about what’s going on if you don’t do your part,” Marilyn Meyn said.
In Metairie, the Vitter children reported that they too had done their part. Jack, 13, quietly admitted that, despite his dad’s fame, they had followed parent-child voting protocol: Jack had pushed the booth’s “vote” button.
For the twins, Airey and Sophie, who turned 18 in January, this was only the second time they’d been able to vote for their father. “It’s definitely very special,” Airey said.
The Vitter daughters said they were always jittery when the election results started coming in.
Wendy Vitter, the candidate’s wife, said she was particularly nervous on behalf of the constituents she’d met on the campaign trail. “We’ll be fine tomorrow either way, but I’m concerned about Louisiana,” she said.
Still, while Vitter signs dotted the neighborhood around the Metairie firehouse, Vitter’s opponent, Edwards, owned the day in New Orleans, where campaign workers happily waved the Democrat’s signs and handed out his leaflets at nearly every corner.
As drivers passed Jarred Turvalon, 24, they waved and honked their car horns. “Good spirits out here today,” he said.