Early voting running way ahead of four years ago

ST. MARTINVILLE – Early voting for the Nov. 4 election will likely double the votes cast before the 2004 presidential election, says St. Martin Parish Registrar of Voters Sue C. Thibodeaux.

This year's count passed the 2004 benchmark of 975 in-person votes around midday Friday, with three and a half days of early voting remaining.

Of course the rules have changed somewhat – no "absentee" excuses required now – and the amount of time available to vote has increased. It was eight hours a day for five days in 2004, nine and a half hours a day for seven days this year. But election officials all over the country are reporting record early voting in the McCain-Obama matchup.

A Gallup Poll released Friday indicated that about 11 percent of registered voters who plan to vote had already voted as of Wednesday night, with another 19 percent saying they plan to vote before election day – that's 30 percent.

(According to exit polling, the early vote nationally was shaking out roughly even between Barack Obama and John McCain.)

Early voting continues at the registrar's office in the parish courthouse through Tuesday, Oct. 28, including Saturday.

Hours are 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court's office reminds persons who intend to vote, whether early or on election day, that by state law they must bring a photo ID with them to the polls.

If you require assistance in the voting booth because you are unable to read or have a physical handicap, you must notify the registrar's office. A note from your doctor might be required.

If you're not familiar with the new voting machines, you should ask for help from the election commissioner before entering the booth.

No electioneering is allowed on public property within 600 feet – the length of two football fields – of a voting precinct on election day. That includes wearing buttons or T-shirts with political slogans.

Once you press the CAST VOTE button, your vote is final.

For a look at a sample ballot, go to:

http://www400.sos.louisiana.gov/cgibin/?rqstyp=BLTINQ&rqsdta=start.

For the Public Affairs Research Council's explanation of the proposed amendments, go to:

http://www.la-par.org/Publications/PDF/ConstAmends2008.pdf.

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