BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - It’s hard to believe, but we are now just days away from the first in-person voting of the 2020 presidential election in Louisiana.
Parts of the county have already seen record turnouts for their early voting, and the same is expected in Louisiana, as well.
The Bossier Parish Courthouse in Benton is just one of two locations in the parish for early voting, which gets underway on Friday, October 16. Voting will be taking place at the Bossier courthouse and at the history center inside the main Bossier City Library.
Registrar of Voters Stephanie Agee says they are expecting as much as double the turnout compared to early voting in the last presidential election in 2016.
A high expected turnout means there are even more precautions in place against COVID-19.
We caught up with two of Agee’s staff members who showed us what they’ll be doing a lot of, wiping and cleaning the eight voting machines on the second floor of the courthouse.
“What we’ll do is, we just barely spray it and then we do this. We clean it off, especially right here where they put their cards. And touch any of this and all this is clean and sanitized after each voter," said Agee.
She says the process is expected to be repeated over and over again, possibly as many as 2,000 times for each of the 10 days of early voting in Bossier Parish.
Agee also walked us through the path that voters will take inside the courthouse, with a strong emphasis on social distancing.
“We will actually bring them in here. And we will never bring in any more than 3 to 4 people in here, as far as the 6 foot marks," said Agee.
She explained that other precautions begin downstairs at the front entrance to the courthouse before they ever get to the second floor.
“Downstairs when they actually, when they come in through the metal detectors. We’ll actually have the crowd control barriers. We’ll have masks available, provided by the secretary of state. And it says, you know, in other words, basically we’re not saying that you have to, but we’re saying, ‘we would really like for you to have a mask on'," said Agee.
Voters like Michael Ketcham aren’t bringing in their absentee ballots in person out of fear of COVID-19 necessarily, but instead because of fears about mailing in the ballots through the U.S. Postal Service.
“I started wondering, my mail in Benton that I mail, does it go directly to the courthouse or does it go through the main post office in Shreveport and it does, before it comes back here. And I said, 'I’m not gonna trust the mail. I’m gonna bring it up here and deliver it in person," said Agee.
Agee says they provide all poll workers with PPE gear, which includes spit shields and K95 masks. In the last two elections, they even wore hospital gowns.