Voting officials take precautions ahead of Saturday election

Pandemic voting safety

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - In two days, Louisiana voters head to the polls with some predicting heavy turnout. Local elections officials are making special plans for a Saturday vote which they say will be unlike any other, due to concerns over the coronavirus

Saturday will be Louisiana’s first election of the coronavirus crisis and the secretary of state has sent COVID-19 prevention bags for each precinct.

Commissioners are given gowns, gloves, and face shields, as well as sanitizing wipes.

Orleans clerk of court Arthur Morrell says he is still looking for more commissioners because coronavirus took a toll.

“Yes we’ve had over 2 dozen commissioners to come down with the virus and others have chosen not to participate,” Morrell said.

Elections officials will be putting out pylons to make sure voters social distance, under COVID-19 election legislation passed three months ago in baton rouge.

Voters across the state will be voting on which candidate they would like to see their party nominate for president. Orleans Parish voters will also decide a first city court judgeship.

Early voting was expanded to two weeks due to COVID concerns and New Orleans elections officials say many took advantage.

“A little over 20,000 so far but we’re still getting more mail-ins,” Morrell said.

In St Tammany, in addition to selecting a presidential nominee, voters will decide mayors and council members in Madisonville and Mandeville, councilmembers in Covington, and an appeals court judgeship.

“We didn’t have as big a turnout as anticipated, 8000 early voters,” said St. Tammany Clerk of Court Melissa Henry.

Statewide, more than 186,000 cast early votes, many to avoid the risk of going to the polls.

In Jefferson Parish, precautions are also being taken.

“The commissioners will have masks, gowns, rubber gloves the voting lines marked off with 6 feet social distancing markers,” said Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Geggenheimer.

Aside from the presidential preference primary, JP voters in Grand Isle will be voting for mayor, council, and police chief, while Jean Lafitte voters will elect a mayor, in an unprecedented election.

" I’ve never seen anything like this not always pertaining to elections but anything else this is really a surreal time is it not,” Geggenheimer said.

Most polling places will have disposable pens, for voters to sign the registration log when they go vote. Under election laws, masks are not mandatory, but voters are urged to wear them.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.