NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Elections officials have added-up the number of early voters, and reports show the early voting turnout was lower than expected.

“Given the fact that this is a very competitive environment, and we haven’t seen the level of enthusiasm in the past due to the fact that voters are in many ways, frustrated and distracted,” pollster and sociologist Dr. Silas Lee said.

“But this is a different political climate, so every political climate brings a different level of expectations and response from voters.”

Lee said despite the lack of enthusiasm this election, there are a few races to keep a close eye on.

“For some of the council races, definitely there’s some enthusiasm, due to the fact that the candidates have been one, highly visible, especially with their media presence, so it’s been very competitive for Jefferson Parish,” Lee said.

According to Lee, that’s not unusual for Jefferson Parish politics, but as for the governor’s race, Lee believes there are differences in comparison to previous years.

There are only two democrats in the running, Shawn Wilson and Oscar “Omar” Dantzler J.R., who are going up against 14 other candidates, with Attorney General Jeff Landry gaining support from the Oil and Gas and Sheriffs’ associations.

“It will be a run-off given the number of candidates in the race,” Lee said. “We’ve seen visibility for three or four candidates; however, we haven’t seen the local visibility that’s been very prominent in previous election cycles.”

It was largely similar for early voter turnout. Statewide, 344,000 registered voters cast their ballots early, 41,000 less than in the last gubernatorial primary. In Orleans Parish, over 6,000 fewer citizens voted this year compared to 2019.

Orleans Parish Chief Elections Officer Darren Lombard said in a statement sent to WGNO regarding early voter turnout:

“It is disappointing that more citizens did not go to the polls during early voting last week. By a wide margin, seniors 65 and over voted in greater numbers than any other age group and that less than 400 young people aged 18-20 went to the polls during early voting. Even though there are a number of football games this weekend including Homecoming for Southern and Grambling, LSU playing in Baton Rouge and the Saints in Houston, it’s possible to vote in the morning before the games start. Voting gives you a voice in our government. I’d like to encourage all citizens who have not yet voted to go to the polls Saturday, Oct. 14 or request a mail in ballot.”

Other significant races include several Jefferson Parish Council seats that could push out incumbents. On the North Shore, Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer is trying to oust Parish President Mike Cooper, who won the last race with over 60% of the votes.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 9. Absentee ballots must be turned in by Oct. 13.

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