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|Record high registration in Ouachita|
More residents of Ouachita Parish are registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election than for any other election in parish history, according to Registrar of Voters Christa Medaries.
Some 100,372 voters are eligible to cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election. That's an increase of more than 3,000 voters, or almost four percent, over the past year.
Medaries said the heightened interest is due to the presidential election and this year's historic slate of candidates.
"For the first time, you have a black man running for president as the Democratic nominee," Medaries said. "You also had a woman who was running for the Democratic nomination."
Medaries said interest has also increased on the Republican side of the electorate because Sen. John McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
No matter who wins the presidential election of 2008, history will be made.
"There's a lot of interest in that," Medaries said. "A lot of people just want to vote this time."
A closer look at voter trends indicated a strong interest in the race, an interest that crosses racial and party boundaries.
In Ouachita Parish, white voters outnumber black voter by more than 2 to 1. Some 64,642 of the parish's voters are white, while slightly less than 32,000 registered voters are black.
That mirrors the parish's overall population, according to recent state population estimates.
On a party level, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 15,000 registered voters. However, almost a third of Ouachita Parish voters chose "other" or "no party" as their affiliation.
In the Democratic column, some 45,000 voters are tallied. Among Democrats, more than two-thirds are black.
In Republican Party ranks in Ouachita, the racial divide is even wider. There are 30,097 white Republicans and less than 1,000 black Republicans.
In an election cycle where race is considered a factor, racial breakdowns within the two major parties are an important consideration.
Across the state, more than 2.9 million voters will be eligible to cast ballots Nov. 4.
Of that total, whites outnumber blacks almost two to one. However, Democrats still outnumber Republicans by a wide margin.
There are 1.5 million Democrats, equally divided between whites and blacks. Republicans number 732,000 with white Republicans outnumbering black Republicans by more than 25 to 1.
One factor of the 2008 presidential race that seems to have skipped Louisiana is large numbers of people who registered to vote this year.
Medaries said she expected turnout to be the major local story of this election cycle.
In 2004 in Ouachita, more than 65 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls. Medaries said that she expects the percentage to climb.
"I really think it will be a higher turnout this time," Medaries said.