Early voting in Lafayette Parish ended Saturday evening with 10,918 people casting ballots in person, up 2,522 votes compared with early voting in the 2015 election for governor, mayor-president and city-parish council.
Republicans gained ground since the 2015 election, Christie Maloyed, associate professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said. The number of Republicans registered to vote in Lafayette Parish increased in the past four years and the percentage of Republicans voting early is up from 2015, she said.
In the 2015 primary race for governor, Maloyed said, 35.5 percent of Lafayette Parish voters were registered Republican. They made up 48.1 percent of the early votes in that election.
This year, 38.3 percent of voters in the parish are registered Republican and Republicans cast 51.1 percent of the early votes, she said.
Voting precincts between Johnston Street and Verot School Road showed a concentration of high early voter turnout, many of them with more than 100 people voting early, some with 200 or more people voting early. Precincts with the highest voter turnout, Maloyed said, were in River Ranch, Broadmoor and the E. Broussard areas in the city of Lafayette.
The precinct with the highest number of early voters was precinct 87 in Lafayette City Council District 3. It encompasses homes between Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Camellia Boulevard, Kaliste Saloom Road and the Vermilion River, including River Ranch. In that precinct, 182 Republicans voted early compared with 37 Democrats and 46 who registered as other parties.
The three areas with a concentration of early voters also usually have a high voter turnout on Election Day, Maloyed said. It may be that those voters plan on being at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, she said, or the LSU home game Saturday, so they voted early.
High early voting turnout, Maloyed said, isn't necessarily a good predictor of the outcome of a race. People are making a big deal about the number of Republicans who voted early, she said.
"There's nothing in the data that says they'll win," Maloyed added.
Another 1,193 people voted early through the mail, bringing the total early votes cast in Lafayette Parish to 12,111. That's a 7.9 percent turnout so far, she said.
Voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Voters should bring a photo ID, such as a driver's license.
Registered voters can get a sample ballot specific to them and find out where their voting place is located by visiting https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/