SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – If voter turnout in Texas is any indication, lines could be long in Louisiana as well when early voting opens this Friday.
Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts expresses her frustration over inadequate facilities for early voting in Caddo Parish.
“I think we need to do everything we can to encourage voters to vote by providing capacity.”
Right now, there’s only one early voting location for Caddo Parish residents and it’s in downtown Shreveport.
“Our neighboring parish right there in Bossier has two satellite locations. They have two options. De Soto, much smaller municipalities has access to early voting satellite locations and Caddo being third largest in Louisiana only has one.”
In August, with a 6-6 vote, the Caddo Parish Commission failed to approve a second early voting location at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. Gage-Watts voted in favor of it.
“Because of the infrastructure and it was centrally located and it will be in addition to what we already have downtown.”
A month later on September 17, the commission passed a resolution to add additional satellite locations.
“I think where we are in this pandemic, we’ve been able to stand things up overnight almost and here we are with something where we only need computers and a few extra hands for about 10 days.”
KTAL/KMSS reached out to the Caddo Registrar of Voters, they shared with us they only had one month to open the new location and it was not enough time to train staff and set up a system with IT.
Commissioner Gage-Watts adds money was budgeted for the additional site well before COVID-19 concerns came into place.
“So unfortunate that we are still stuck. I was told that it could take up to a year for us to actually establish this second location, which is very disheartening for a historic election that’s about to take place.”
Early voting in Louisiana begins on Friday, October 17 and will continue through Tuesday, October 27 (excluding Sunday, October 17 and Sunday, October 25). Polls will be open for early voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.