The William Jefferson Chronicles

Low turnout expected in today's election
by The Times-Picayune
Saturday December 06, 2008, 1:01 PM

Voters across most of Orleans and parts of Jefferson parishes head to the polls today to elect representatives in two races: one for Congress and the other for state Senate.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but anyone waiting in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Voters should bring a picture ID. Those who don't have photo identification should bring another document, such as a utility bill, showing a home address.

For information about polling locations and how to report problems at the polls, click here.

With partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 50s forecast, weather is not expected to keep voters from casting ballots.

Even so, turnout is predicted to be far lower than last month's election, which featured Barack Obama, now president-elect, at the top of the ticket.

During the early voting period that ended last week, only about 1,100 voters in Orleans Parish and 494 voters in Jefferson Parish cast ballots, according to local Registrar of Voters offices. That compares with more than 13,000 early ballots cast in each parish before the Nov. 4 election.

In the 2nd Congressional District general election, incumbent Rep. William Jefferson, who emerged from a crowded Democratic field, is seeking his 10th term against three candidates who appear on the ballot for the first time because they faced no competition within their parties: Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao, Green Party candidate Malik Rahim and Libertarian Gregory Kahn.

New state rules that established party primaries for the first time in 30 years mean that today's general election is the final round of voting, meaning that the candidate with the most votes will win the seat, even if he doesn't claim a majority.

The district covers most of New Orleans, most of Jefferson Parish's West Bank and parts of south Kenner.

The other election is to fill the 3rd District Senate seat vacated by Derrick Shepherd, who resigned after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering charges. Vying for the seat are State Rep. J. P. Morrell and New Orleans businessman Shawn Barney, both Democrats from Gentilly.

The 3rd District stretches from Lake Pontchartrain through Gentilly to the French Quarter and includes Algiers Point and some other sections of Jefferson Parish's West Bank.

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