Mar 24, 2014 7:28 PM by Akeam Ashford
The St. Mary Parish Registrar of Voters office is increasing security at the courthouse after some tense moments over the weekend during early voting.
Several voters reached out to KATC, saying police weren't allowing them to vote. The registrar of voters, Jolene Holcombe confirmed police were there but said it was a move to protect voters.
"When officers got here, I told them we have people assembling in the parking lot and we need them to not do any politicking, and not approach any voters," Holcombe said.
By law, it's unlawful for any person to be within 600 feet of a polling entrance between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. to solicit another person to vote for or against a candidate. They also cannot hand out campaign literature to voters, place or display political signs, or circulate a recall petition for signatures at the voting site, according to state law.
As a safety precaution, Holcombe has hired two St. Mary Parish Sheriff's deputies to oversee early voting, hoping that will calm tensions at the courthouse.
"To be honest, we weren't expecting to have to do that for this election, because it had been so quiet, but we can't have campaign supporters harassing voters," Holcombe said.
Holcombe said this is the largest voter turnout she's ever seen for early voting. Out of 5,151 eligible voters, 304 people showed up on the first day of early voting.
"We encourage voter participation, but we need you to decide on who you're voting for before you come vote," Holcombe said.
Early voting for the April 5 election continues until Saturday.
Anyone who wants to vote early can head over to their parish registrar of voters office.
Early voting is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.