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Early voting opens Saturday; governor's race, proposed amendments top ballots

8 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Friday, September 29 2023 Sep 29, 2023 September 29, 2023 12:00 PM September 29, 2023 in News

Voting opens for the 2023 primary election Saturday and will run through Saturday, Oct. 7. Topping the slate are more than a dozen candidates hoping to replace the term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards and four other statewide offices.

Also being considered statewide are four proposed constitutional amendments, including two the grew out of the top headlines of 2020: Should Louisiana restrict who can help pay to conduct elections, and are governors permitted to close churches, synagogues and mosques during a public emergency?


Early voting is conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Sundays. Early voting locations are listed at the secretary of state's website


While Edwards’ departure after eight years in office drew 15 candidates, seven in the contest have drawn the most attention due to their higher name recognition. Attorney General Jeff Landry and former state transportation chief Shawn Wilson have led in pre-election polling, but five others participated in a handful of debates over the summer.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote when ballots are counted Oct. 14, there will be a runoff Nov. 18.

Top Republicans in the governor's race include Landry, business lobbyist Stephen Waguespack, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and state Treasurer John Schroder. Heavy advertising by Hunter Lundy, an independent, has boosted his profile. Wilson is a Democrat.

Richard Nelson, another Republican, withdrew from the race last week but his name will still appear on the ballot.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is the only incumbent on the ballot for a seat currently held. Louisiana will have a new secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer next year. Mike Strain will return as the state's commissioner of agriculture and forestry and Tim Temple will replace Jim Donelon as insurance commissioner.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Misinformation that grew out of the 2020 election led Louisiana lawmakers to put on this year's ballot a constitutional amendment that would restrict outside funding for election officials. Two dozen states have adopted restrictions, including nearly every state in the South. 

Also up for consideration is a proposal that would let houses of worship remain open even if public safety considerations would suggest shuttering them, as was done during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. The state and U.S. constitutional already guarantee a right to worship, but the proposal going before voters would extend a right to gather to worship.

OTHER RACES

Locally, spots on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are on the ballots, as are several legislative seats, sheriffs and clerks of court. East Baton Rouge Parish voters will consider renewing a property tax that would raise $16 million annually for emergency medical services.

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