‘Huge’ election turnout expected

High turnout is expected for Tuesday’s election, and that could mean long lines at polling places, Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Monday.

“We are anticipating a huge turnout,” Schedler told the Baton Rouge Press Club. “I would peg it around 70 or 71 percent, about 3 or 4 percent higher than in 2008.”

Louisiana has just slightly more than 2.9 million registered voters, he said.

Approximately 345,000 voters voted early, Schedler said.

High turnout could lead to lengthy waits at voting precincts, he said.

Because all voters who are in line when the polls close at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote, people in some parts of the state could still be voting at 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m., Schedler said.

“In urban areas, waiting for an hour-and-a-half is realistic, maybe even a little longer,” he said.

Schedler encouraged voters to do their homework and research issues on the ballot so that they won’t dally at the polls.

A hotly contested presidential election as well as locally intense races in Baton Rouge and other places will contribute to the higher turnout, he said, adding that there is no formula to predict turnout.

“It’s more of a gut call,” Schedler said.

Schedler said he had extended the deadline by one day for a military ballot to be received to Nov. 7.

“A lot of that mail goes through New York” and other areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, Schedler said.

The state’s most-watched congressional race is the 3rd Congressional District in which two Republican incumbents are facing off.

Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, were forced to run against each other when their districts were combined after the lines were redrawn in light of the 2010 U.S. Census. Louisiana lost a congressional seat due to a lack of population growth.

Three other candidates are in the race: Democrat Ron Richard, Republican Bryan Barrilleaux and Libertarian Jim Stark.

The New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District now stretches into much of northern Baton Rouge and U.S. Rep Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, faces four little-funded candidates: Gary Landrieu, Democrat; Caleb Trotter, Libertarian political newcomer; and Josue Larose, a Republican who lists a New Orleans address but mailed in his qualifying papers from Florida.

Voters in metro New Orleans will decide several judgeships and the makeup of the New Orleans City Council and Orleans Parish School Board. Several propositions are also on the ballot.

In New Orleans, four candidates are vying to represent District B on the city council: LaToya Cantrell, Marlon J. Horton, Dana Kaplan and Eric Strachan — all Democrats. In District E, five candidates are running to replace Jon Johnson, who resigned this summer after admitting to corruption charges. The candidates are in the all-Democratic field are Austin Badon, Jerredla Drummer Sanders, James A. Gray II, Dana Henry and Mary Fontenot Smith.

Six Orleans Parish School Board seats are being contested.

In District 1, incumbent Heidi Lovett Daniels faces challenger Ira Thomas. The field in District 2 is Cynthia Cade, Durrell L. Laurent and Dwight McKenna. In District 3, incumbent Brett A. Bonin faces two challengers, Sarah Newell Usdin and Karran Harper Royal. In District 4, incumbent Woody Koppel, the only Republican running for school board, faces Jason Coleman. In District 7, the field is made up of Nolan A. Marshall Jr., Thomas Robichaux and Kwame A. Smith.

New Orleans voters will also cast ballots in some judicial races.

Tracey Flemings-Davillier and Glen A. Woods, both Democrats, are running for Criminal District Court, Section B. Incumbent Charles R. Jones is being challenged by Sandra Cabrina Jenkins for 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, 1st District Division B. Both are Democrats.

A crowded field is running to replace retiring 2nd City Court Judge Mary “KK” Norman. The candidates are: Kiana Aaron-Mitchell, E. “Teena’’ Anderson-Trahan, Martin L. “Marty’’ Broussard Jr., Edward Markle, Kim M. O’Dowd and Marie Williams-Brigandi. Markle is the lone Republican in that race.

There are also contests in 2nd City Court for clerk and constable. Vying for the clerk’s position are Van Howenstine, Adam Lambert and Darren Lombard, all Democrats. Ennis Grundmeyer and Edwin Shorty Jr., both Democrats, are running for constable.

Several propositions also are on the ballot in New Orleans and the metro area. Voters in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes will decide whether to keep the $1 toll — 40 cents with a tag — on the Crescent City Connection.

Orleans Parish voters will decide whether to extend a 6.07-mill property tax for levees and hurricane flood protection for 30 years. A 20-year, 20-mill property tax for properties within the boundaries of the New Orleans Regional Business Park, except for owner-occupied residences, is also on the ballot.

New Orleans voters will decide on a proposed charter change that would alter the way that at-large city council members are elected beginning in 2012. Currently, any two candidates who earn at least 25 percent of the vote are elected, with a runoff for one or both seats if no two candidates get that percentage. The amendment would see at-large seats filled through separate elections, with each candidate declaring during qualifying which seat they are seeking. Winners would need at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Kenner voters also will decide on proposed charter changes. One would restrict political activity by nonelected city employees on behalf of city candidates. The other would require contracts with a value of $100,000 or more to be ratified by a Kenner City Council ordinance.

In St. Tammany Parish, voters will decide whether to renew for 10 years a 1.84-mill property tax for the parish health center and other public health activities. Covington voters will decide whether to allow city officials greater flexibility in spending revenue generated by the city’s 1-cent sales tax. And residents who live in St. Tammany Parish Waterworks District No. 2, between Covington and Abita Springs, will vote on whether to allow the water authority to issue up to $985,000 in 20-year bonds to pay for improvements.