More than 89,000 Louisiana residents took advantage of Louisiana’s early voting process on Saturday, resulting in the largest day-one turnout state election officials have ever seen.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin described the results as “encouraging” and has spent part of this week making media appearances while explaining how the process has grown and new early voting sites have been added in certain locales.
The first-day total of 89,623 early voters for this runoff cycle bests the last record of 87,066 early voters for the opening day of the 2016 president election.
“This 89,623 figure was 16 percent higher than it was for the primary and 112 percent higher than it was for the 2015 runoff,” said JMC Analytics and Polling President John Couvillon, who breaks down early voting numbers each day on his blog and for television news partners.
Couvillon, a Republican, added, “For whatever the true causes were of weak Democratic early voting turnout in the primary (overconfidence about Gov. Edwards’ winning in the first primary, lack of motivation from partisan Democrats to vote in the primary, or some other reason), that mistake was not repeated yesterday. In fact, Democrats had a great first day.”
Based on figures released by the Secretary of State’s Office, more than 40,000 Democrats early voted on day one, along with about 35,000 Republicans and 14,000 other party voters. Additionally, 59,000 of those voters were white and 27,000 were African-American.
There were likewise large numbers posted in Bossier, Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, which are regions rich with Democratic votes.
Early voting ends Saturday.
Political History: A constitutionally elected governor
This week marks the 52nd anniversary (Nov. 4, 1967) of a modern Louisiana governor achieving a subsequent second term thanks to constitutional law.
Prior to the late 1960s, governors of recent history were confined to a single four-year term, unless they wanted to sit out an election cycle and attempt a comeback, much like late Govs. Earl K. Long and Jimmie Davis. But it was the late Gov. John McKeithen who paved the way for the possibility of two terms back-to-back, like those later enjoyed by Govs. Edwin Edwards, Mike Foster and Bobby Jindal.
McKeithen started making a push for his "Amendment 1" in 1966, as his first term was coming to a close. He convinced the Legislature to approve the proposed amendment that spring, announced in September he would run for re-election if it was passed and was given what he wanted by voters on Nov. 8, 1966. Passage was no easy matter. Opponents included Davis and late Congressman Gillis Long, but they were outmatched by supporters like the AFL-CIO and most of Louisiana's major newspapers.
After the Nov. 4, 1967, gubernatorial primary election was held, no runoff was required because Republicans failed to field a candidate to take on McKeithen. Freshman Congressman John Rarick, an Indiana transplant who called St. Francisville home, attempted to capture the Democratic nomination, but McKeithen’s country ways and trademark "Won't you 'hep me?” won voters over.
McKeithen died on June 4, 1999, just months before Foster became Louisiana’s next constitutionally-mandated, two-term governor. Upon his tombstone are the following words, excepted from a speech McKeithen delivered during his first bid for governor during the 1963-64 election cycle:
“I wasn't born to material wealth, nor do I have claim to an aristocratic name. But if I am elected governor, it will prove that any mother's son can aspire to the highest political office of this state. I've come this far because you the people have given me your support – with all the professional politicians, power brokers and big money people fighting me every step of the way. Because I owe you so much, you can be assured when I raise my hand to take the oath of office as Governor of Louisiana, there will be a prayer in my heart that God will always guide me to do what is best for the state and all the people in it. We'll win this race, but I need your help. Won't you help me?”
They Said It
“There are not local races anymore. Every doctor’s office, every gas station, every barber shop has a TV in it, and eight out of 10 of those in Mississippi are airing Fox News ... I am personally hopeful that local issues such as infrastructure, public education and transportation supersede this, but the thing about Trump is, he just sucks up all the oxygen, every day.” — Brad Chism, a Mississippi Democratic strategist, on the nation’s gubernatorial elections being influenced by President Donald Trump, in The Washington Post
“For the vast majority of Americans who are either center-left or center-right, I think about half are saying, ‘Give the guy a break.’ I think the other half are saying, ‘How in God’s name did we get here?’ And they’re paying attention.” — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, on the president, in The Washington Post
"One day, you're standing with a group that will never stand with you on life but you'll stand with on criminal justice reform. And the next day you're standing with all pro-lifers, and everybody else is screaming at you.” — Sen.-elect Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, on the challenge of working with both conservatives and liberals on wide-ranging topics, in the National Catholic Reporter