Voters line up outside the Joseph S Yenni Building for early voting in Elmwood, La. Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Photo by Max Becherer,, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Early voting ends 7 p.m. Tuesday and while the turnout already is a record-breaker, Louisiana is a hair’s breadth from 1 million voters having cast their ballots a week before the Nov. 3 Election Day.

Monday morning started with a tally of 761,261 registered voters having already voted with Monday and Tuesday still to go, according to Secretary of State records. That’s a 43% increase when comparing turnout to the presidential race in 2016 – the largest early voting turnout on record when 531,555 registered voters participated.

About 80,000 voters per day have consistently shown up to take advantage of the early voting option. Monday’s turnout numbers will be updated later Tuesday.

History shows the final two days are the busiest, said John M. Couvillon, a Baton Rouge pollster who has studied voter turnout for years. Couple that with Monday’s lines across the state are longer than usual. More than a block of people lined up just to get inside the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro building, only to stand in another long line going into a large 6th floor courtroom where the voting machines were located.

“That (estimate) comes from looking at the math. That’s not just spit balling,” Couvillon said.

Adding to in-person early voting is a record number of absentee mail ballots – 136,293 have been turned in as of Monday morning compared to 63,016 in 2016.

Couvillon calculates that early voting totals should hit about 980,000 ballots. But that's close enough that if any single part of the formula is off, by the time polls close Tuesday night, early turnout could easily top 1 million votes cast.

Jefferson Parish has seen 52.8% increase with 55,552 total in-person participants and accepted absentee mail ballots, adding 19,802 additional votes since the 2016 presidential election.

"I am anticipating a huge crush tomorrow,” Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco said Monday. "It's not only corona. This is not a normal election year.”

Most of the mail ballots requested statewide came before a court ordered the state to allow voters to use mail ballots for COVID-19 reasons. Voters who are 65 years and older have requested a record number of absentee mail ballots, as they already were allowed to do under state law.

Lafayette Parish, another Republican stronghold, almost doubled their early voting turnout from 18,913 in 2016, adding 18,693 more this year for a total of 37,606 votes already cast.

But statewide, the increased participation are coming from Democrats and African American voters.

In 2016, 70% White and 27% Black voted early. This time the ratio White to Black is 65% to 30%.

“You did not have the turbo-charged Democratic enthusiasm in 2016. But this year you do,” Couvillon said.

Orleans Parish, a Democratic Party stronghold, cast 25,191 more ballots to increase its early voting total by 50%. Similarly, East Baton Rouge Parish has seen a 60% increase in participation.

After early voting ends Tuesday night, the polls open again for in-person voting at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3. By the time polling stations close at 8 p.m. later that night, Couvillon predicts 2.2 million registered Louisiana voters, about 72% of the 3 million total, will have participated in the presidential election.

Meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law legislation aimed at giving parish voter registrars and elections commissioners a little more time to process absentee mail ballots.

Under Senate Bill 22, now Act 9, by Slidell Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt, registrars receiving more than a thousand mail ballots, which includes most parishes, can start processing the mail ballots on Friday, Oct. 30, instead of Monday, Nov. 2, as the law had required.

Vote counting won’t start until Nov. 3, but elections officials will have the chance to go through each mailed ballot, check for signatures, ballot numbers and such.

Louisiana voters are deciding who will be president, U.S. senator, all six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, two members of the Public Service Commission, two justices on the Louisiana Supreme Court, a number of state appellate court judges, all prosecutors and state district court judges, several local seats, seven state constitutional amendments and a local option on whether to allow sports betting in the parish.

Faimon Roberts contributed to this report

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