WASHINGTON (AP) — Louisiana residents may have just elected a new governor, but they’re not done casting ballots.
On Saturday, voters will decide runoff elections for secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and almost two dozen state legislative seats, where Republicans need only defeat the Democratic candidate in one state House district to maintain their supermajority in the chamber.
Topping the ballot will be the race to replace Republican Kyle Ardoin as secretary of state. The Republican candidate is Nancy Landry, a former three-term state representative who serves as Ardoin’s chief deputy. The Democratic candidate is Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Baton Rouge-based attorney who ran unsuccessfully for the job against Ardoin in 2018 and 2019. They advanced to Saturday’s runoff after each received 19% of the Oct. 14 primary vote, with Landry edging Collins-Greenup by just shy of a thousand votes. Landry is not related to Republican Gov.-elect Jeff Landry.
The winner will inherit the task of replacing Louisiana’s aging electronic touch-screen voting equipment, which has been panned by both Democrats and Republicans for not producing a paper record to assure voters and auditors that election results were tabulated accurately. The process of replacing the machines has dragged on for years, with election deniers such as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell advocating that the state abandon the use of machines entirely and rely instead on hand-counting all ballots statewide.
Landry and Collins-Greenup agree on key election administration issues. At a candidate forum in September, they both opposed hand-counting ballots and supported adopting a voting system that provides an auditable paper trail. They agreed that Louisiana’s elections are secure and that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president over incumbent Donald Trump in 2020. They differed on extending the state’s early voting period, currently set at seven days. Landry says that the current system is adequate and that extending it would be too expensive and possibly unfair to candidates. Collins-Greenup says she would support a longer period if the state’s election infrastructure can support it.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
The Louisiana general election will be held Saturday. Polls close at 8 p.m. local time (CT), which is 9 p.m. ET.
WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT?
The Associated Press will provide coverage for 29 contested races: secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, four statewide ballot measures, two regional state school board races, two state Senate seats and 18 state House seats. All 39 Senate seats and 105 House seats were up for election this year, but most seats were filled in the Oct. 14 primary election.
WHO GETS TO VOTE?
All registered voters may participate in the general election on Saturday.
Although John Bel Edwards won the governorship twice in 2015 and 2019, Louisiana remains a tough state for Democrats running statewide. Turning a statewide office blue would entail following Edwards’ electoral blueprint: posting huge numbers in Democratic strongholds, winning over somewhat competitive areas where Republican margins of victory tend to be smaller, and minimizing the damage in heavily Republican regions like central Louisiana.
Collins-Greenup received 41% in her unsuccessful 2018 and 2019 bids for secretary of state, slightly outperforming both Hillary Clinton and Biden statewide but unable to significantly expand the map beyond the 10 parishes they carried.
Also working against Democrats is the expected low turnout for this runoff, which tends to fall off dramatically from the primary if there is no gubernatorial election leading the ballot.
The Associated Press does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.
There are no automatic recounts in Louisiana, but a candidate may request and pay for a recount of absentee and early votes. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is subject to a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.
WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
As of Nov. 1, there were 2,976,612 voters registered in Louisiana. Of those, 39% were registered Democrats and 34% were registered Republicans.
Turnout for the October gubernatorial primary was 1.1 million voters, about 36% of total registered voters. About 47% of registered Republicans and 36% of registered Democrats cast ballots.
Turnout for the 2019 gubernatorial general election was 1.5 million voters, or 51% of registered voters. That election featured turnout from 55% of registered Democrats and 58% of registered Republicans.
The last time a Louisiana governor was elected in the October primary rather than in the November general election was in 2011, when Republican Bobby Jindal was reelected. That year, turnout went from 33% of total registered voters in the primary to 23% in the general election. In the 2018 special election for secretary of state, turnout was at 51% in the primary, which coincided with the congressional midterm election, but then plummeted to 18% in the runoff.
As of Wednesday, a total of 264,855 voters had cast ballots before Election Day, 47% by Republicans, 39% by Democrats and 15% by members of other parties.
In the 2019 gubernatorial general election, 33% of voters cast ballots before Election Day.
As of Monday, the AP estimates a turnout of between 15% and 18% of registered voters, or roughly 780,000 votes, based on the turnout of previous statewide contests and advance voting ballots received to date.
HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
In the Oct. 14 primary in Louisiana, the AP first reported results at 9:03 p.m. ET, or three minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 1:02 a.m. ET with 100% of total votes counted.