Early Voting Up 16 Percent For Saturday Governor's Runoff

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Early voting for Saturday's runoff elections for governor and other offices is up 16 percent from primary figures, with the largest increases in urban areas.

         Elections officials said 257,021 of Louisiana's 2.89 million registered voters had cast ballots by the time early voting ended Saturday, The Advocate’s Marsha Shuler reported.

         Saturday's ballot is topped by the race for governor between Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter.

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         Political analyst John Couvillon said the early voting figures suggest that a 44 percent turnout is likely Saturday, up from 39 percent in the Oct. 24 primary.

         Increases were higher among African-Americans and registered Democrats than among whites and registered Republicans, said Ed Chervenak, director of the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center.

         "If we dare make any assumptions from the early voting numbers, it would be that trend in the numbers are more favorable to the Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards," he said. "The fact that African-American and registered Democrats have boosted their numbers to a greater extent than whites and registered Republicans benefits Edwards."

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         Couvillon also noted "a Democratic tilt" in early voting.

         He said 68 percent of the early runoff voters were white, compared to 71 percent of those for the primary, and Democrats accounted for 52 percent of the early runoff voters compared to 50 percent in the primary.

         Early voting increased in 35 parishes and decreased in 29 parishes from the primary to the general election, Couvillon said. The parishes with the greatest increase in turnout were largely urban, he said.

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         "If we look at the primary vote of the parishes that saw increases and decreases in their turnout, the parishes that saw an increase … voted 41-23 for Edwards over Vitter, while the parishes that saw a decrease … voted 35-22 percent for Edwards over Vitter," Couvillon said. "Edwards gets a mild benefit from the individual parishes where the increases in early voting have occurred."

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