- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Early voting begins Saturday for the Nov. 21 runoff election, with competitions for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general on the ballot, along with local races across 51 parishes.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Louisiana’s top elections official, is hoping to draw more voters in the runoff, after a low 39 percent turnout for the primary election last month. He urged voters in a statement: “No excuses. Get informed and cast your ballot.”

People seeking to vote early have a weeklong period available around the state. Here’s a look at the ballot and how to vote in advance:

GOVERNOR’S RACE

At the top of the list of state and local elections is the tighter-than-predicted race between Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter to be Louisiana’s next governor. The winner takes over from term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal in January.

Vitter started as the front-runner months ago, having outraised and outspent his rivals. But the U.S. senator’s numbers started to slide with revived talk of his 2007 prostitution scandal and criticism of his heavy attacks against two GOP opponents in the primary election.

Edwards, leader of the state House Democrats, took the lead in the race, and polls have shown him staying there so far. If he manages a victory, it would be the first time Louisiana has elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2008.

Both candidates are trying to drum up enthusiasm for early voting with campaign events this weekend. Vitter will host two rallies on Saturday, in Shreveport and Lafayette. Edwards also will be in Shreveport for a Saturday rally and a “march to vote” to a polling location.

ALSO ON THE BALLOT

Two other statewide offices also remain to be decided.

The lieutenant governor’s race is a competition between Republican Billy Nungesser, a former Plaquemines Parish president, and Democrat Kip Holden, the mayor of Baton Rouge. Next up, Republican Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is battling to hang onto his position for a third term, against GOP former Congressman Jeff Landry.

Around Louisiana more than 150 races are in the election, including competitions for state legislative seats, two positions on the state education board and municipal government jobs. Also, 116 local propositions are up for consideration, according to the Schedler’s office.

HOW AND WHERE TO VOTE

Voters can cast ballots early through Nov. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at parish registrar of voters’ offices and other designated locations. Early voting shuts down on Sunday and on Wednesday for the Veterans Day holiday.

The Secretary of State’s Office has a complete list of early voting locations at: https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/EarlyVoting . More details also are available on the GeauxVote mobile app for cellphones, including voting locations and sample ballots.


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