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Official expects long lines at La. polls

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana’s top elections official advised voters to do their homework about today’s hefty ballot and to expect a lengthy wait to get in the voting booth on Election Day.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler predicted turnout for the election could top 70 percent in Louisiana after a record number of people voted early.

“Vote and be patient,” Schedler said Monday. He added, “In your urban areas, to wait for an hour and a half is not unrealistic, maybe longer.”

The polls in Louisiana open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Schedler cited the long list of items on the ballot and the large number of people expected to show up. Anyone in line by poll closing time will be allowed to vote, so people could cast ballots well after 8 p.m.

“It’s important to study that ballot before you go in,” Schedler said in a speech to the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Information about what’s on the ballot is available on the secretary of state’s website at www.geauxvote.com . Schedler’s office also has a mobile application available for smart phones that provides personalized ballot information and polling location.

At the top of the ballot is the hotly contested presidential race between Democratic President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In addition, Louisiana voters will decide six U.S. House races, nine constitutional amendments, judicial races and local competitions. Some parishes also will choose a new justice for Louisiana’s Supreme Court and a new representative on the state’s utility regulatory agency, the Public Service Commission.

Most of Louisiana’s incumbent congressmen are expected to win easy re-election bids, after attracting no well-financed challengers.

The exception is in Louisiana’s 3rd, where two GOP incumbents were forced into the same district because the state lost a U.S. House seat after the latest federal census.

Republican U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry have three other opponents for the district covering southwest Louisiana and Acadiana, but they’ve focused on each other, trading bitter attacks in a contest that might not be decided until a Dec. 8 runoff.

Schedler extended the deadline for the receipt of military and overseas ballots by one day, until Wednesday, because Hurricane Sandy disrupted air traffic and the movement of ballots.

More than 350,000 people cast early ballots for Tuesday’s elections, about 12 percent of Louisiana’s 2.9 million registered voters.