“I never expected it to be seven hours,” voters wait hours on first day of early voting

Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 8:45 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As far as the eye can see at the early voting location in Marrero, hundreds of people wearing their masks waited hours to vote.

“Seven hours. Seven hours,” said Alfred Parker. “I usually early vote, every year. But I didn’t expect that it was going to take that long.”

Parker was in line Friday morning on the first day of early voting. He says he did not expect to see a large turnout.

“I never expected it to be seven hours. Never,” Parker said.

Sheila Chaisson also line up at the Charles Odom, Sr. Service Center this morning. But she says the long line was discouraging.

“The line was all the way around this building, down to the street,” Chaisson said. “We stayed about 20 minutes, got about 20 feet.”

She left. As she was leaving, she says she searched for the best time to cast her ballot, “It says about 3 o’clock,” Chaisson explains, [but] not in this case."

This time she stayed in line and stuck it out.

It was not just the Odom location, but across Jefferson Parish voters were waiting hours to weigh in on the election.

“We’ve never seen since I’ve been here, which is over 20 years, as many people turning out to early vote on the first day,” said Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco. “It’s just, it’s overwhelming.”

The coronavirus forced election leaders across the state to make safety changes. Election workers are equipped with personal protection equipment like face shields and hand sanitizers. Fewer voting booths have also been set up in polling locations to ensure social distancing.

Alfred Parker says even though he waited seven hours, he says it’s worth it. But some didn’t have the same outlook as Parker.

“We bailed,” Gail Allen said. “We’ve been in line for two hours and we calculated by looking at the crowd that we’d be here another 3 more.”

It was Allen’s first attempt at early voting as a new Jefferson Parish resident. “My feet hurt, my back hurt, I’ll come back another day or wait till the 3rd,” Allen said.

She didn’t vote today but says it doesn’t mean she won’t cast her ballot.

Early voting continues through Tuesday, October 27th from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, excluding Sundays.

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