LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The coronavirus is changing the way Acadiana votes.
Early voting in Louisiana continues until Saturday, July 4th, but results in from week one in Lafayette Parish show 75% of voters are not driving out to the polls.
During the 2016 presidential election year, 2,487 people in Lafayette Parish voted early in person. 929 people voted by mail. Compare that to 2020’s first week and the numbers flip. 920 people voted early in person and 2,621 voted by mail.
Some years the Registrar of Voters Office in Lafayette sees over 1,000 people in one day, but during 2020 early voting, workers at the polls sometimes saw less than 100 people in 10 hours.
“The COVID-19 has impacted the voting,” admitted Charlene Meaux Menard, Lafayette Parish’s registrar of voters.
With masks, gowns, and constant sanitation, her workplace may look like a hospital, but waiting in line doesn’t require any patience.
“The avid voters, you know, who would come all the time, I think they’re just scared to come here,” rationalized Meaux Menard. “I think they would rather vote by mail.”
In-person voting requires an ID, but a face mask and pen are recommended.
Meaux Menard explained It is a different set of requirements for mail-in ballots.
The general application if for those at least 65 or unable to make it to the polls for multiple reasons.
A new COVID-19 absentee application is allowing more people to vote through the mail. Anyone who is at risk due to age or condition, experiencing COVID-like symptoms, has to quarantine or isolate as a result of the virus or is a caretaker of someone who has to quarantine or isolate is eligible.
Still, some won’t opt out of the tangible experience, insisting they feel better seeing the process through rather than trusting the mail.
“We feel safer by coming in and personally doing it. It’s just my opinion,” said Dolores Marks, surrounded by her girlfriends after they cast their ballot.
Other people who are approved for a mail-in ballot, will receive it shipped to your home.
Some personal information as well as a witness’s and your signature is required when you mail back your vote, and you must pay for your postage.
No matter which method you choose, the end result is the same.
“I just want my vote to count,” explained Lynette Duos. “Me too and Marilyn,” added Marks. Marilyn Sottarelly agreed, “And me three.”
If you need a more in-depth guide in filling out a mail-in ballot, you can find it here.