Changes in Jefferson Parish polling locations prompt concern for voter turnout

Changes in Jefferson Parish polling locations prompt concern for voter turnout

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WVUE) -The August election may not drive as many people to the polls, but with three millage renewals on the ballot, Gretna mayor Belinda Constant says it’s a very important election.

“There is absolutely a lot of reason to be concerned about the upcoming election,” said Constant.

That’s why when she learned the parish moved two of the city’s bigger polling locations, she fears the change will put several ballots at risk.

“We know how that can be for some people that are not used to those things, to know when they vote, now I have to go somewhere else, and sometimes it can be a challenge especially for us and our elderly population… we are doing a mail-out but again we understand everyone’s got challenges with mail,” said Constant.

As these elections were postponed to summer months, they had to change many of these polling locations from firehouses because many would no longer be in ADA compliance.

“Normally there in the spring in the fall. So, you don’t have to heat issue and with the age of our average commission is getting older you have some that are a little more susceptible,” said Dennis DiMarco.

The Jefferson Parish council voted to study and then move 18 different polling locations throughout the parish. Registrar of voters Dennis DiMarco says to put it lightly, it’s been an expensive challenge.

He says his office has spent more than $6800 in postage alone notifying voters about the precinct changes, and that does not even include sending out mail-in ballots, and extended hours for early voting.

“We are spending all this money to educate voters to get them out to vote all this postage and the bottom line is we may have an overall eight percent turn out on this,” said DiMarco.

“It’s been a very tiring and challenging election for anyone who’s in the business of conducting elections.”

While moving polling locations may further complicate voting in the time of coronavirus, both leaders hope it won’t deter too many people from the polls.

“So we’re scrambling for money we’re scrambling to get the word out and it’s a challenge, but I think everything about these elections is a challenge,” said DiMarco.

“Please go vote, go vote early,” said Constant.

Approving the sale of East Jefferson hospital to the LCMC Health network is also on some Jefferson Parish ballots.

DiMarco says there will be signs on the old polling locations notifying voters of the new locations, but recommends early voting, or to check the Geaux Vote voter portal beforehand.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.