Early Birds Win The Election!

Even though it hasn’t yet reached a conclusion, there’s already a group of winners emerging from the 2017 election cycle in Louisiana. They’re our state’s early voters, or those folks who either mail in their ballots or cast their choices in person during the weeks preceding Election Day.

“We’re not seeing a shift overall in voter turnout, but we are seeing early voting as an option continuing to build,” said Meg Casper Sunstrom, spokesperson for Secretary of State Tom Schedler. “It’s becoming more and more popular.”

Early voting for this fall's elections stretched from one Saturday to another (Sept. 30 through Oct. 7) and initial reports pointed to robust participation. So much so that JMC Analytics and Polling predicted — after just one day of balloting — that early voting could comprise 30 percent or more of the overall turnout.

If that’s the case, Louisiana’s early birds will set a new election record. The benchmark was established nearly a year ago, in November's presidential race, when early voters accounted for 26 percent of the total turnout.

So who are all of these people and how are they getting ahead of the game? For starters, early voting can be broken down into two categories: those who ship their ballots via the postal service and those who personally walk into the booth during the week of early voting, which is happening right now.

The vast majority of the early voters participating by mail are typically 65 or older. The state has a special program that allows senior citizens to opt-in for the mail service. Overseas military personnel fall into this category, too, as do Louisiana residents working or temporarily living in another country.

But there are many other people who could qualify for a mail-in ballot. For example, are you in a government witness protection program? There’s a mail-in ballot for that. Are you on a jury? Are you imprisoned but not yet convicted? Are you a priest, student, offshore worker or nursing home resident? There are mail-in ballots for all of that.

Simply make your choice and get that piece of paper to a parish registrar of voters. It’s that easy.

As long as you are registered to vote, and you have a good reason, you can even request a mail-in ballot right now — assuming you’re reading this prior to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, which is the final day to make such a request. (And please be aware that the deadline to submit your ballot is just three days later, on Oct. 13, unless you’re in the military or are overseas.)

You might be wondering what happens to all of those paper ballots that are let loose into the electoral wilds of Louisiana. Well, parish registrars more or less sit on them until Election Day, when the ballots are opened and counted in the early afternoon. Until then the mail-in counts remain a mystery.

By comparison, early voting in person is much easier. Find out where your early voting precinct is located, show up and be patriotic. Moreover, while you’re at it, take some pride in knowing that you’re part of a growing trend in Louisiana politics that may very well shatter a ceiling this year.

Some political nerds saw this coming. The number of people who are voting by mail or during the early voting week has exceeded 20 percent of the total turnout for four statewide elections in a row. Professionally-run campaigns, meanwhile, have certainly taken notice. Candidates are making sure this segment of the electorate doesn't go overlooked. After all, if it’s a tight race those senior citizens, roughnecks and soldiers can make all of the difference.

For consultants and media buyers, the growth in the early voting process has moved the entire election process up by two to three weeks. Commercials are popping up on television screens sooner and negative attacks are coming quicker. Elderly voters, in particular, are being courted more aggressively.

Newspapers are catching on as well. Whereas publications have long put out printed ballots for voters to study and mark up before they visit their precincts on Election Day, many are now doing the same for the week of early voting — even the smaller community papers.

One of the Bayou State's running gags has always been to encourage folks to vote early and vote often. One of those directives, of course, is rather illegal. The other, though, is perfectly legit. So vote early, Louisiana! This trend could become one of the best things to come out of the 2017 election cycle.

SPONSORED: A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Despite the horrors of the day, the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) shaped both the generation who survived it and their descendants

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 12/05: Former Congressman Rodney Alexander, Baton Rouge Councilman Buddy Amoroso and Charles Landry — Wednesday 12/06:

Remarks from Mary Landrieu

Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was presented with the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award this past weekend by the Louisiana Center for

The Beltway Beat

— Congressman Ralph Abraham went duck hunting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this past weekend, in a couple of different blinds in

Political Chatter

— Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards hosted their Christmas festivities at the Governor’s Mansion today. — The First

LOWDOWN: Crowley Vs. Winnfield (Where’s The Real Political Muscle?)

Which Louisiana city has the best political crop? Is it Crowley or Winnfield? Or is it somewhere else? State Rep. John Stefanski of

Sponsored: The Spirit Of Metanoia

Metanoia is an ancient Greek word meaning “the journey of changing one's mind, heart, self and way of life.” But in an undisclosed haven

The Beltway Beat

— Dan Fagan in The Advocate: Is U.S. Sen. John Kennedy really anti-abortion? We get the “real answer” tomorrow, when the Senate holds a

Political Chatter

— Gov. John Bel Edwards is in Washington, D.C., today with Rep. Tanner Magee, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections deputy

Alford: Cybersecurity a Burgeoning Issue

Hang around the process long enough and you’ll recognize the same phrases being parroted in each and every regular session of the Louisiana

LaHistory: Bob Kennon and the JFK Mailer

By Mitch Rabalais In late November, Louisiana politics is usually consumed with the excitement of the final weeks before an election —

From the LaRC: Huey’s Been Drinking Again

We thought you’d enjoy this… The Louisiana Research Collection scored this great photograph of Huey P. Long, captured in August 1933 at the

POD: Our Ex-Cop-Gone-Congressman

Next month will mark Congressman Clay Higgins’ first full year of serving in U.S. House. We talked to Higgins on the pod back in the spring,

LOWDOWN: Jimmie Davis + 3 Legislative Factoids

That time Louisiana's governor rode his horse into the Capitol building... Plus we recall that very uncomfortable period when two different

Duncan Devotees Target Kennedy

This story was first published for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly on Nov. 9, 2017. Wish you had read it then? Subscribe

They Said It

These were first published for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly on Nov. 9, 2017. Wish you had read it then? Subscribe now! “I had a 4.0

BREAKING: Sexual Harassment Claims Precede Resignation In Governor’s Office

Over the past week sources have confirmed to LaPolitics that sexual allegations were going to be leveled against one of Gov. John Bel

Turkey Talking, Fool! (Rick Ward & The Presidents)

In this week's episode of The Lowdown we're talking turkey, fool! And you better believe that Louisiana politicians, like Sen. Rick

They Said It

These were first published for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly on Nov. 2 and Oct. 26, 2017. Wish you had read it then? Subscribe

Sponsored: A Little Bit Beltway, A Little Bit Bayou

Paige Hensgens Hightower has the best of both worlds – a little bit Beltway and a little bit bayou. Her love for Capitol Hill and her heart

Four Reasons to be Thankful This Week

If you’re a longtime subscriber to LaPolitics Weekly, or if you’ve been with The Tuesday Tracker since the beginning, then you already know

JBE & DXC

Back home in Reilly’s Banana Republican, the governor’s comms shop whipped the press corps into a frenzy Sunday afternoon by sending out an

J-B-E, THE D-E-Ms & SOME P-D-A

There’s already a followup to our recent analysis about Gov. John Bel Edwards’ rising political stock among Democrats nationally. Check

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 11/14: Austin Stukins — Wednesday 11/15: Ryan Berni, Andy Kopplin, Matt Dardenne, Aaron Eggleston and Pam Bounds — Thursday

The Beltway Beat

— Congressman Steve Scalise honored his security detail saviors from the Congressional Baseball game practice shooting at the United States