Three men who began battling last summer for F. Edward Herbert's congressional seat face the voters again Saturday in a primary race that has been joined by a young state legislator, a woman and a swarm of controversy.

In a come-from-behind race, Richard A. Tonry won the Democratic Party primary Oct. 2 and went on to defeat a Republican and an independent in the general election. However, 20 poll commisioners later pleaded guilty to stealing votes for Tonry, and the freshman congressman resigned last month after four months on Capitol Hill.

Eight days after his resignation, Tony was indicted on federal charges of obstructing of justice and campaign finance law violations in connection with his race. His trial here is to start July 5.

Nevertheless, Tonry is campaigning to regain his his seat, and he has said that a victory in Saturday's primary is the only present he wants that day - his 42d birthday.

His Democratic primary opponents are state Rep. Ron Faucheux, 26, who helped design Tonry's campaign commercials last year and whose campaign seat, and he has said that a victory in Saturday's slogan now is "a bright young man who's nobody's boy," and Florence Tye Jennison, who says her chief interest is the United Nations.

In last year's Democratic primary, Tonry's principal opponent was James A. Moreau, a former New Orleans city councilman. However, since that election, Moreau has switched to the Republican Party, where hs is running in the GOP primary Saturday against Robert Livingstone, 34, a former Orleans parish (county) and state prosecutor.

Moreau, 62, a lifelong concervative who wears an enameled American flag in his lapel, said he joined the GOP because he has always espoused the Republicans' philosophy, although until recently such an affiliation would have been political suicide in Louisiana.

However, other observers said Moreau switched parties when he realized he would fare poorly against Tonry and Faucheux. Another reason they eite is his loss of support by the powerful Perez family political machine, which has decided to back Faucheux in this race.

The winners of Saturday's party primaries will face each other in the Aug. 27 general election.

The repercusions from last October's primary continued almost to Saturday's election.

Today, three more St. Bernard Parish poll commissioners were charged with stealing votes for Tonry in the October election.

TOnry said U.S. Attorney Gerald Gallinghouse's timing of the bills of information is "an obvious attempt on the part of Mr. Gallinghouse, a Republican, to affect the outcome of a Democratic primary."

However, apart from that incident, the situations that led to this election have not been milked by Tonry's opponents.

The voters "have had it up to here with . . . name-calling and mud-slinging," said Faucheux in explaining his decision not to bring up the issue, and Moreau joined Faucheux in refusing to bring up the issue.

Because of the controversy that has cost him about $85,000 in legal fees, Tonry has scaled down his campaign. Instead of a blizzard of television spots, he is relying on door-to-door campaigning, preceded by a sound truck blaring the theme from "Rocky."

As he did last year, Tonry, a former member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the state legislature, is relying on a coalition of blacks, organized labor - which has provided 69 per cent of his campaign donations - and young voters in his drive.

In addition to the Perez' support, Faucheux is relying on the backing of "good government" groups, including one that named him legislator of the year for 1976.

Moreau and Livingston are battling for the allegiance of the same types of voters: Republicans, who number about 8,900 in the district, compared with some 200,000 Democrats.

Livingston, however, is stressing his long, lonely road as the GOP's sole candidate in the race.

In this campaign, the two candidates untouched by allegations of impropriety - Faucheux and Livingston - have led the field in raising money.

According to the last campaign finance report Faucheux had raised $55,000 and Livingston received $43,000.

Tonry's contributions totaled $16,375 and Moreau has gotten $1,930 in donations.

Jennison did not file a campaign finance report.