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Workers move about 800 machines from a warehouse in New Orleans East early in the morning on Friday, October 11, 2019. Saturday is Election Day in Louisiana.

With a ballot topped by a governor's race that is just now getting feisty, a week of early voting begins 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Turnout is expected to be high on the first day of early voting for the Nov. 16 winner-take-all general election. Early voting takes the day off Sunday, then runs Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at all parish registrar of voters offices and at a handful of stations in the bigger cities like Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans.

About 28% of all 1.3 million votes cast in the Oct. 12 primary were during the week of early voting.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and his Republican rival, Eddie Rispone, are neck and neck in the governor’s race that headlines the ballot. 

In addition, Louisiana voters are looking at a do-over in the secretary of state’s race as Republican Kyle Ardoin looks for a full four years against Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup, whom he beat last year in a special election to fill out the remainder of Tom Schedler’s term after Schedler resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature are one seat away from having a veto-proof majority in the House — the Senate already has a two-thirds GOP majority. Twenty-four House seats and five Senate seats, out of the 144-seat Legislature, remain to be decided.

The balance of power in the House could come down to two closely-watched races in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The House District 62 race, which includes East Baton Rouge Parish as well as large portions of East and West Feliciana parishes, is a contest between Republican Johnny Arceneaux, a former Baton Rouge Community College administrator, and Independent Roy Daryl Adams, who operates a family owned grocery store.

In south Baton Rouge, voters will decide between two lifelong educators in the House District 70 race: Democrat Belinda Davis, an LSU political science professor, and Republican Barbara Freiberg, who currently serves on the Metro Council.

Voters in the New Orleans area will choose a new Louisiana Supreme Court justice, deciding between Will Crain, a state appeals court judge from Madisonville, and Hans Liljeberg, a state appeals court judge from Metairie. The winner will replace former Justice Greg Guidry, who was appointed to the federal bench.

And Lafayette is picking a new city-parish mayor-president between Carlee Alm-LaBar, who has no party affiliation, and Republican Josh Guillory.

In all, Louisiana’s 2.97 million registered voters will be looking at 175 elected positions and 123 local propositions statewide, though local ballots likely will be considerably smaller.

But the marquee race is at the top of the ballot.

Running for his first elective office, Rispone is well-known among Republican Party officials as someone willing to write big checks for GOP candidates and causes. He introduced himself through TV ads, backed by $11.5 million in his personal wealth he spent on the race, in which he tied himself to President Donald Trump. Rispone says Louisiana needs an outsider with business skills to guide the state through what he calls tough economic times.

Rispone hasn’t been specific about his plans for the state, but his most oft-repeated policy initiative is to rewrite the state’s constitution.

Trump won the state by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election and remains popular in Louisiana, though his numbers are lower nationally. He appeared before an exuberant crowd in Lake Charles the day before the Oct. 12 primary to rally Republican voters for Rispone and his GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, and against Edwards. The president will be making a second trip to Louisiana on Wednesday, when he'll visit Abraham's Congressional district in Monroe, and possibly a third trip in Shreveport before the election. 

Edwards focused on his record over the past four years, including expanding Medicaid health care coverage to include nearly half a million working poor, and ending years of budget deficits, which was accomplished through negotiation with a Republican-majority Legislature for a tax and budget deal. Once the budget was stabilized, he was able to push through the first pay raise for teachers in a decade this year and provide more money for public schools and colleges.

Edwards came within about 40,000 votes of winning the primary outright, garnering 626,000 ballots. Rispone received 368,318 votes, or 27%, of the total, which coupled with Abraham’s 24% of votes gave the Republicans the majority.

Edwards and Rispone are locked into a race that either could win. The margin of error in two polls released last week had virtually the same results. One poll was by JMC Analytics & Polling in Baton Rouge, and the other by Edgewater Research in New Orleans.

“Partisanship shapes preferences in this election, big time,” wrote Edward Chervenak, of Edgewater Research. “Neither candidate should expect any significant partisan crossover appeal.”

Early voters should bring a photo ID, such as a Louisiana driver’s license, a Louisiana Special ID or the digital LA Wallet license. Voters without proper photo identification can still vote, but will have to sign an affidavit.

Early voters cast their ballots on new touchscreen voting machines.

Parishes with early voting locations additional to Registrar of Voters' offices

Ascension Parish

Courthouse Annex

828 S. Irma Blvd. Rm. 20

Gonzales

Courthouse West

200 Houmas St., Ste. B

Donaldsonville

Oak Grove Community Center

37433 La. Hwy. 42

Prairieville

East Baton Rouge Parish

City Hall

222 St. Louis St. Room 201

Baton Rouge

Motor Vehicle Bldg.

2250 Main St.

Baker

Fire Station

11010 Coursey Blvd.

Baton Rouge

State Archives

3851 Essen Lane

Baton Rouge

Central Branch Library

11260 Joor Road

Baton Rouge

Livingston Parish

29938 S. Magnolia St.

Livingston

Denham Springs-Walker Branch Library

8101 US Hwy 190

Denham Springs

Orleans Parish

City Hall

1300 Perdido Street, Rm 1W24

New Orleans

Algiers Courthouse

225 Morgan St. Rm 105

New Orleans

Voting Machine Warehouse

8870 Chef Menteur Hwy.

New Orleans

Lake Vista Community Center

6500 Spanish Fort Blvd., 2nd floor

New Orleans

Jefferson Parish

Joseph Yenni Parish Building

1221 Elmwood Park Blvd., Room 502

Harahan

Charles Odom Building

5001 West Bank Expressway, Ste. C-2

Marrero

408 Minor Street

Kenner

Grand Isle Multiplex

3101 La. Hwy. 1

Grand Isle

St. Martin Parish

St. Martin Parish Courthouse Annex

415 St. Martin Street

St. Martinville

St. Martin Parish Water District No. 1 Building

1073 Tower Tank Rd.

Morgan City

Sydnie Mae Durand Senior Citizens Center

391 Cannery Road

Breaux Bridge

St. Landry Parish

Courthouse

118 S. Court St., Suite 114

Opelousas

Eunice City Hall

300 S. Second Street

Eunice

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.