Massive number of absentee ballots could delay some election results, Sec. of State says
BATON ROUGE - A record 964,181 Louisianians voted early and that high-turnout trend is expected to continue on Election Day.
"We expect about 1.1 to 1.2 million more voters to participate," Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said.
Ardoin says lines Tuesday could at least mirror the crowds seen during early voting.
"COVID-19 issues, I think are going to slow the process down a little bit or look like it's elongated, in terms of lines," Ardoin said.
It may not only be voting that takes a little bit longer, but also the process of counting all the votes after polls close.
"I anticipate the first set of numbers to start trickling in will be the in-person, early voting, behind that will be in-person election day votes," Ardoin said. "I expect that for some parishes, the more populated parishes, the lasts votes that'll come in will be the tallies for absentee balloting."
The sheer number of absentee ballots, Ardoin said, could delay results across the state. In 2016, 64,000 absentee ballots were returned, of the 90,000 requested. So far for this election, more than 220,000 absentee ballots were requested and 180,000 have already been returned.
Ardoin says these types of ballots simply take more time to process.
"If I were in a local race and it was tight, I would not declare myself the winner, if it's a really tight race, because you just don't know how long it's going to take to count those absentee ballots," Ardoin said.
In past elections, Ardoin says the state has been able to have complete, but unofficial results around midnight following Election Day.
With the record number of absentee ballots, voters should anticipate those results sometime Wednesday.
"I would say early Wednesday, to midday, our hope is to have it in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, but it might go later, because if it does take a little bit longer in populated parishes, we obviously can't make them work 24 hours," Ardoin says.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. People in line when the polls close will be permitted to vote.
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