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Early voting: Your right 

Early voting for Louisiana's Dec. 6 runoff election concludes this week on Saturday, Nov. 29. There is no voting on Thursday, Nov. 27, or Friday, Nov. 28, in honor of Thanksgiving. Early voting has become increasingly prevalent, according to Secretary of State Tom Schedler, and in some elections it accounts for nearly 20 percent of ballots cast — though overall voting totals remain static. President Barack Obama advocated early voting at a speech last month in Chicago, and first lady Michelle Obama did the same at a campaign appearance in Florida. But early voting is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing. It's about participation.

  The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration reports that expanded early voting is popular with voters across the board, regardless of party. Lines are shorter, and voters usually are able to take their time. State law imposes a three-minute limit in voting booths, which usually goes unenforced as long as there's no one waiting. By voting early, you're virtually assured of more time with your ballot — and lines tend to be nonexistent. On ballots with a lot of propositions or amendments, taking your time can be important — in the Nov. 4 primary, voters were asked to decide on 14 proposed state constitutional amendments, and the Dec. 6 ballot in Jefferson Parish will have 11 proposed charter amendments.

Early voting is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing. It's about participation.

  More than 9 million people across the country voted early in the midterm elections — roughly 245,000 in Louisiana — and political campaigns have adjusted their strategies accordingly. Candidates campaign earlier and stress get-out-the-vote efforts more. "Enabling voters to cast a ballot at a time convenient to them, not the election authority, is the whole point of allowing voting before Election Day," the Presidential Commission concluded in its report recommending the practice. We agree.

  To find your early voting location, check the Louisiana Secretary of State's office at www.geauxvote.com or by calling 1-800-883-2805.



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