Early voting underway this morning in Teche Area; registration brisk

This year’s presidential election is being humbly touted as “the most consequential election of our lifetime.”

Whether it is remains to be seen. What can be said, though, is that early voting for that contest — and several others important to Teche Area voters — is now underway.

Iberia Parish Registrar of Voters Kristie Blanchard was busy making final preparations earlier this week. Because of the high expectations for this round of balloting, she was having two more voting machines moved into the Registrar of Voters office in the Iberia Parish Courthouse.

“We had six machines,” she said. “We’re going up to eight.”

Other changes have been made to the office as well. Plexiglass has been installed. The voting machines will be socially distanced from each other.

Voters will be required to maintain social distance as they await the opportunity to vote.

“We usually have people walk up and ask for the sample ballot, then vote,” Blanchard said. “We won’t be able to do that this year, because of the number of items on the ballot. We have 13 separate ballots in Iberia Parish alone. So voters need to do their research and come prepared.”

Blanchard said that voters will be able to get sample ballots, but they will have to go back to the back of the line after receiving it instead of continuing through to vote as in previous years.

She also said that the response to the absentee mail in ballots makes her think the number of voters will be higher than in previous years.

“We had 2,800 ballots requested, which is more than usual,” Blanchard said. “So far, we have 1,392 returned.”

She also said that voter registration, which closed Oct. 13 for online registration, was brisk.

“We had 60 the other day,” Blanchard said.

Overall, even with the high expectations and the challenges of handling an election in the days of COVID, Blanchard said her office is ready.

“We have done everything we can to prepare for this,” Blanchard said.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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