By Cyndi Sellers
“Unbelievable!” was the reaction of Registrar of Voters Michelle Richard to the record number of in-person early voters in Cameron Parish. During the 10-day early voting period, 2,168 voters cast ballots at the Grand Lake and Hackberry, four times as many as in the 2016 presidential election. In that year, 526 in-person early votes were cast.
This election has clearly captured the attention of a great many citizens. Parish voter registration is up to 5393, and Richard said she saw a lot of first-time voters, including older voters. “We wanted to have confetti and balloons for them,” Richard said. “It is so important to exercise the right to vote.”
An additional 275 absentee ballots had been received as of Wednesday morning, swelling the total of early voters even further. Another 129 have been mailed out, and there is still time to request an absentee ballot That deadline is Friday at 4:30 p.m. The total early votes cast in Cameron Parish in 2016 were 844, compared to 2443 so far this year, according to the Secretary of State.
Big Election Day Ahead
Richard also expects to see big numbers of election-day voters on Nov. 3, even with the disruption of two hurricanes in recent weeks. “A lot of people want to cast their vote on election day,” she said. Two mega sites have been approved for the damaged communities on the east side of the parish. All Grand Lake area voters will cast ballots in a tent in the parking lot of Brown’s Grocery, 10051 Gulf Hwy. The earlier site of the Fireman’s Center was not accepted by the Fire Marshal, according to Clerk of Court Susan Racca, and Brown’s was gracious enough to offer their space.
All Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier voters will ballot in a portable building set up in the parking lot of the Creole Fire Station. The “Biz Box” was delivered and set up by the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday.
Voting precincts that remain the same are: 01 – Johnson Bayou Recreation Center, 09 – Klondike Community Center, 08 – Lowry Fire Station, and 04 – Hackberry Community Center.
Besides the major interest in the Presidential election, several other important races and measures are on the ballot. Voters will decide on a US Senator and Representative, as well as Cameron Parish District Attorney. Many early voters have been surprised to find not two but 13 presidential candidates on their ballot. Incumbent Senator Bill Cassidy faces 14 challengers, and incumbent Representative Clay Higgins faces three. Incumbent District Attorney Jennifer Jones faces challenger Tom Barrett in Cameron Parish. A sample ballot is printed in this paper.
There are seven Constitutional amendments on the ballot. A simple description of each is printed elsewhere in this paper. Of particular interest to Cameron Parish is Amendment No. 5, which authorizes local governments to enter into cooperative endeavor ad valorem tax exemption agreements with new or expanding manufacturing establishments. In other words, agreements like the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement proposed a couple of years ago with Cameron LNG. The amendment has widespread support from Police Juries, School Boards, and Sheriff’s Departments, but is receiving a lot of negative comment on social media.
The last ballot item is whether to allow sports betting in Cameron Parish.