NEW ORLEANS - About one in every three New Orleans voters are now choosing to participate in early voting.
In Louisiana, voters can cast ballots at select locations, 14 days to 7 days before a scheduled election. In the past, people could go to City Hall, the Algiers Courthouse or the voting machine warehouse in New Orleans east to vote early.
Thursday, Secretary of State Tom Schedler joined city leaders in announcing a fourth location, the Regional Transportation Center on Veterans Boulevard in the Lakeview neighborhood. "This is for the city and the voters," said Schedler. "Access for voting." "Early voting is convenience voting," said Orleans Registrar of Voters Dr. Sandra Wilson. "It gives everyone the opportunity to vote at their convenience."
The Lakeview location will be opened to voters on the two Saturdays during the early voting period for the February 1 election which runs January 18-25. City Council Vice President Stacy Head worked with Sec. Schedler and the city to find the $60,000 needed to run the site.
"We identified this area as the most needy first and then we're looking at areas Uptown, we're looking at areas in St. Roch area and the 9th Ward," said Head.
Head's opponent in the upcoming election Eugene Green wants to know why Lakeview was chosen over other neighborhoods. "The residents of the Lower 9th Ward, the residents of Carrollton and Hollygrove area, Pigeon Town area, the residents of Gentilly deserve as equal an access to early voting," said Green.
Sec. Schedler says the Lakeview voting site will be a model for the city and that folks who would like to see similar sites in other parts of the New Orleans need to bring more than air to the conversation.
"It's not a hard process," said Schedler. "But, you've got to identify the spot. You've got to do the work and you've got to get the funding and if you do that, I'm not standing in your way."
Schedler is encouraging all voters to exercise their right to help choose the next slate of leaders for New Orleans. The municipal elections will be held February 1, with a run off election if needed on March 15.