This election has seen record numbers of early voters across the country, and Jefferson Parish is no different. With more people voting early, some residents have waited in line for as much as five hours. To address the longer lines, Jefferson Parish has added four additional voting machines to its Westbank early voting site in Marrero.
Dennis DiMarco is the Registrar of Voters in Jefferson Parish. He said the number of people early voting will continue to increase because of concerns about mail-in voting. Ultimately, adding more voting machines will help alleviate the lines, which are even longer due to social distancing requirements.
"The perfect storm for us is the coronavirus which means social distancing," said DiMarco. "We're mandated to have all machines six feet apart."
In the first two days of early voting, nearly 17,000 people have cast a ballot for the upcoming election, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State. NOLA reports that Jefferson Parish only had 32 available machines, compared to St. Tammany's 42 and Orleans' 115. According to 4WWL, the Odom Building will get four more voting machines, bringing that location's total to 14.
Voters in many cities around the country have experienced long lines while early voting. The high voter turnout combined with the pandemic has led some people to wait in line for hours. 4WWL reports that some voting advocates said there should have been more or larger polling locations to help avoid the long wait times.
"What we've been telling folks is be prepared," said Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a nonprofit voting rights group. "Be prepared to stand in line, bring water, bring snacks, bring a chair."
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