Louisiana’s biggest election, at least in an even-numbered year, is drawing a lot of attention, if early voting totals are any indicator.
Turnout for early voting that ended Tuesday is far ahead of the 2010 midterms but did not surpass the numbers of those casting ballots early in the 2012 presidential election, Secretary of State Tom Schedler reported.
That reflects, we suspect, the heightened interest in the U.S. Senate election. Incumbent Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from New Orleans, is seeking a fourth term and is challenged by two leading Republicans, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, and Rob Maness, of Madisonville.
Both parties have invested heavily in encouraging turnout, so the early voting numbers are not that big of a surprise. We suspect that in every election, more people are likely to find early voting more convenient, but particularly in a year of a long ballot.
Besides the Senate race, there are several races for Congress, including two hotly contested races in northeastern Louisiana and in the Baton Rouge area. Judgeships and school board races are common in much of the state, but a long list of 14 constitutional amendments also clogs ballots.
As Schedler noted at the Press Club of Baton Rouge, that’s a long list of amendments, and some process or protocol to reduce the number is needed. On Election Day, Nov. 4, Schedler strongly urges voters to look at the list before they step into the voting booth.
“We are anticipating some delays in line,” he said.
As Schedler also noted, the vast level of advertising, often funded by out-of-state partisan contributors, is increasing in elections. That may or may not improve turnout, but certainly the level of excitement about this Senate election is unusual and probably that race is a principal driver of greater participation.
If runoffs are needed, as expected, those will occur on Dec. 6. The frenzy will increase if the Louisiana Senate race is the deciding election between a Democratic- or Republican-controlled Senate.
So between now and then, we expect political activity in Louisiana will not be going down, but rather increasing.