- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s voters can cast their ballots for the upcoming election to choose the nation’s next president, to fill congressional seats and to select local elected officials around the state.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging people to vote ahead of the Nov. 8 election, as the week-long early voting period opened Tuesday. It runs through Nov. 1.

“Presidential elections are always Louisiana’s highest turnout elections, and that means lots of people will be in line on Election Day. Early voting gives people a whole week to vote when it’s convenient for them and lines may be shorter,” Schedler said in a statement.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Top of the ballot for voters is the heated presidential competition.

While voters may only recognize the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump, 11 other candidates also are running in Louisiana to be the nation’s chief executive. They include contenders from the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, Socialist Workers Party and others fewer people may recognize.

THE REST OF THE BALLOT

In addition to the presidential race, Louisiana’s ballot includes the competition for an open U.S. Senate seat with two dozen candidates vying for the job. All six U.S. House seats also are on the ballot, a Louisiana Supreme Court seat, three appeals court positions, an opening on the Public Service Commission and a long list of parish and municipal elected positions.

There are more than 220 races around the state, with 728 candidates, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Six constitutional amendments also await decisions from voters statewide, proposals that affect tuition hikes on college campuses, property tax breaks, corporate tax rates and other areas. Voters in 38 parishes will be considering local propositions.

WHERE TO VOTE

Early voting runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Sunday, at local parish registrar of voters’ offices and other designated locations. Schedler’s office has a complete listing of early voting sites online or through its GeauxVote mobile phone app.

Because of widespread flooding damage in Livingston Parish, a special early voting location has been opened at a large complex of stores and businesses known as Juban Crossing. But no other early voting sites were disrupted by the mid-August saturating of the region.

This year, Louisiana voters will get an “I VOTED” sticker featuring George Rodrigue’s iconic Blue Dog, which Schedler expects to become a collector’s item. The sticker features the famous wide-eyed Blue Dog sitting in front of an American flag, an image created by Rodrigue in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks and entitled “Stand Up Straight and Tall.”

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte .

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