We’re in the middle of a huge season for elections in Louisiana — three years of them.
In 2014, Louisiana was one of the battleground states for control of the U.S. Senate. With races for Congress and many local offices on ballots, it was a huge election year.
Most of America will get a break this year, but not in Louisiana.
The races for governor, Legislature, sheriffs and other local officials, the state school board — many heated races are likely in every corner of the state. And that’s before the 2016 presidential election year, also one in which Louisiana will see many local elections.
In advance of the presidential year, the nation is already seeing a debate over voting rights and access to the ballot. Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton sparred with Republican candidate Rick Perry over a 2011 voting law that she said keeps poor and minority voters from the polls.
Perry shot back on Fox News, saying “it makes sense to have a photo ID to be able to vote.”
We think Perry has the best of the argument because Louisiana has required photo identification, typically a driver’s license, for a long time.
Obviously, we don’t want to see the laws changed before elections to make it more difficult for one group or another to vote. Partisanship is on the rise in this country and it has resulted in politicians in some states seeking to limit early voting — a popular innovation in Louisiana, as elsewhere — because of a perception that it helps Democrats.
In some states, photo identification requirements can result in turning people away from the polls because alternative IDs are expensive or difficult to get. In Louisiana, there is the option of voting by affidavits filled out at the polling places.
That can slow down the process on big election days, such as the ones we’ve been having in this super-cycle of big election years lately. But it does allow a safety valve for voting for those who either forgot their identification or who don’t drive and had difficulty getting alternative IDs.
Where photo IDs are required, we urge our friends in other states to look at Louisiana’s system. It’s not enough to satisfy Clinton and other liberals, perhaps, but it strikes a reasonable balance between protecting against fraud — relatively rare nowadays anyway — and access to the polls.
The issue, we think, for the Democrats is not the voting system in Louisiana but the motivation of voters to go to the polls.
In Clinton’s case, she saw Louisiana twice vote for her husband in national elections. He motivated his voters. She has the same challenge as a candidate. If she manages it, she won’t have to worry about photo ID requirements in this state or in others.