ANALYSIS: COVID-19 inspires more early voting in Louisiana’s special congressional races

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana is still roughly two weeks away from two congressional runoff elections, but many of the state’s voters are already doing their part.

Thousands of voters have voted so far in the races for Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th congressional districts — representing the state’s southeastern and northeastern slices, respectively. The bump follows a rising interest in early voting — by mail and in person — amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is certainly a behavioral change going on with voters,” political pollster John Couvillon said Monday. “It is a possibility that they may question why they waited until Election Day to vote in line when they could just turn in a mail-in ballot from their own kitchen.”

In the 5th congressional district race, the favorite remains Republican Julia Letlow. She’s the widow of late U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died of COVID-19 complications this past December, days before he was to take office.

Couvillon suggests Letlow’s biggest challenge is not whether she will win, but when. A challenge from Democrat Candy Christophe could send the race to an Apr. 20 runoff, should Letlow fail to get more than half of the March vote.

The race for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district — where Democrat Cedric Richmond had served before joining becoming a White House adviser — shows more potential for a runoff. Couvillon said Democrat Troy Carter, who has won endorsements from Richmond and from the Times-Picayune editorial board, could face one of three candidates in such a case: Democrat Karen Carter Peterson, Democrat Gary Chambers or Republican Claston Bernard.

Early voting for the Mar. 20 elections ends Saturday. Voters eligible to cast mail-in ballots have until Mar. 16 to request them — and Mar. 19 to submit them.

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