Poche:?Record early voter turnout in parish

Wade McIntyre

Tabulations from the largest early voting turnout ever in Ascension Parish show 7,175 voters, or 11.62 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the voting period that ended Tuesday, Registrar of Voters Robert Poche said Thursday.

A total of 5,231 Democrats and 2,026 Republicans voted early for the Nov. 4 election. There were 938 “other” ballots.

More women than men voted early, 4,004 to 3,188 voters.

“We never had this many early voting before,” Poche said.

The process was very orderly, though it often took those in line up 1 1/2 hours before they could vote, Poche said.

“Everything went smoothly, though in that situation you get frustrated, naturally,” he said. “There was a lot stress on my employees working non-stop with no breaks or anything.”

On the Tuesday, the last day of early voting, the line of voters stretched from Poche’s office located across from the Parish Council Chambers on Irma Boulevard, down the stairs and across the courtyard, past the downstairs sheriff’s offices, all the way to the judge’s chambers in the courthouse.

At times Poche’s office was filled with people, the area the foyer area between his office and council chambers was full, and the hallway leading down the upstairs sheriff’s offices was full, he said.

“I passed out samples of amendments so they would be familiar with them when they got into the booth,” Poche said.

The next absentee election will almost certainly have shorter lines.

Poche said the parish is set up to open a location in the northern part of the parish that will eliminate some long lines.

State money is approved for the office, Poche said, but there was not time for the state to hardwire the location in time for early voting.

“The Secretary of State assured us it will be ready for the next election,” Poche said.

Ascension Parish has 29,403 registered Democrats, 18,263 Republicans, and 645 “other” voters, according to Poche.