Over 1,000 more ballots were cast in the first four days of early voting in Lafayette Parish for the Oct. 12 election than were cast during the first four days of early voting for the 2015 gubernatorial election.
"It tells us that we may end up with a higher voter turnout than previous years," Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret said. "We are cautiously optimistic."
Last week, Perret and Registrar of Voters Charlene Meaux Menard predicted 45-50 percent turnout for the Oct. 12 election. Early voting turnout for Sept. 28, 30 and Oct. 1-2 suggest turnout for the election may be even higher than four years ago.
"We are pleasantly surprised," Perret said Wednesday evening.
On Saturday, the first day of early voting, 1,639 people cast ballots, Menard said. On Monday, 899 voted in Lafayette Parish. Tuesday was a brisk turnout at 1,140 and Wednesday another 1,303 voted, she said.
"It looks like we're going up and up," Menard said.
Perret said he and Menard thought the turnout would drop Wednesday, but it's holding steady and outpacing the 2015 early voting turnout.
He is concerned, though, that other voters will decide they don't need to vote because the turnout is so high. It's a large and important ballot that includes races for governor, attorney general, Lafayette mayor-president, Lafayette City Council, Lafayette Parish Council and Lafayette Parish School Board.
Election day, Oct. 12, will be busy for other reasons: Festivals Acadiens et Créole and a home LSU game.
More Republicans are voting early than Democrats in Lafayette Parish.
In the first three days of early voting, 2,396 (52 percent) of those casting ballots in Lafayette Parish were registered Republican, 1,482 (32 percent) were Democrat and 702 (15 percent) were registered as other parties.
For comparison, Republicans make up 38.3 percent of registered voters in Lafayette Parish, Democrats 33.2 percent and other parties 28.5 percent, according to data from the Louisiana Secretary of State.
"Lafayette is such a Republican town," Perret said, adding he wasn't surprised Republicans outpaced Democrats in early voting. "Statewide, Democrats are making a very concentrated push to get their vote out."
One complaint that came up on the campaign trail for mayor-president was that Lafayette Parish only has one early voting location, the Registrar of Voters Office at 1010 Lafayette St., in downtown Lafayette, where parking is problematic and where it's difficult for the elderly and handicapped to access the building, plus the office is not on the bottom floor.
Menard said she is trying to find a first-floor location for early voting either in north Lafayette or the southern part of the parish, offering a second location either a few days or the entire week of early voting in future high-interest elections.
Funding may be a problem, she said, because the parish government is responsible for all funding and the parish has little money in reserve. Besides rent, the new location would need equipment, internet and computers, and employees, she said.
Early voting continues from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. through Saturday.