Terrebonne, Lafourche see jump in early voting

With early voting numbers starting to come in, both Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are seeing an increase in voters turning in ballots before Election Day.

More than 4,000 in-person early voters showed up in each parish this year. In 2011’s gubernatorial primary, neither Lafourche nor Terrebonne reached 3,500 early voters.

According to Lafourche Parish Deputy Registrar of Voters Jackie Aucoin, Lafourche had 4,428 in-person early voters this last week, up from 2,872 in the Oct. 2011 elections. This year’s early voters make up about 7.8 percent of total eligible voters in Lafourche, while those in 2011 represented 5.1 percent.

Terrebonne Parish Registrar of Voters Rhonda Rogers said 4,121 people posted early ballots in person this year, or about 6.6 percent of eligible voters in the parish. In 2011, 3,491 Terrebonne residents casted early in-person ballots, which made up 5.5 percent of total eligible voters.

Aside from the in-person ballots, each parish is also still receiving mail-in early ballots. Rogers said that Terrebonne has received 206 of the more than 480 early ballots it has mailed out by press time. Terrebonne’s deadline for sending out mail-in ballots is Tuesday. Aucoin did not have mail-in ballot figures for Lafourche available, but did say that the parish is still accepting them through Friday for civilians and Saturday for military voters.

Neither parish had specific numbers for expected voter turnout for this year’s gubernatorial elections. In the 2011 elections, Lafourche had 38.5 percent of its 56,105 voters cast a ballot. In Terrebonne, 40 percent of its 62,381 voters made it to the polls in 2011.

Rogers said that although she did not have a specific prediction, she sees the early voting numbers as an encouraging sign for Saturday.

“I feel that [early voting] turnout was a real good turnout, so I’m expecting a good turnout at the polls as well, based on what we saw for early voting,” Rogers said.

Rogers said that her department has pushed a number of initiatives to encourage citizens to get to the polls, such as Voter Registration Week at the end of August. She has spread information through her department’s Facebook page, and also offers a demo machine to get first-time voters comfortable with the process.

“It’s just education, getting them informed and letting them know how to find the information they need so they can make good choices,” she said. •