Today’s election has a large cast of characters seeking the nod of Louisiana voters.
The headlines have been dominated by the battle over the U.S. Senate, where Republicans seek to challenge a Democratic majority — and one of the key contests is in Louisiana. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu seeks another six-year term and touts her seniority and effectiveness for the state in a partisan environment; she faces two Republican challengers emphasizing their opposition to the policies of President Barack Obama.
Yet there are many other races on the ballot statewide, including school boards in most parishes in the state and municipal offices in many smaller communities. Judgeships are also on the ballot in many parishes.
Several Louisiana members of Congress face opponents, but few races have generated the excitement of two districts up the Mississippi River, from the bayou country to the Arkansas line. In the northeastern 5th District, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, of Swartz, made his freshman debut on the national stage with an ugly video of an embrace with a woman who is not his wife. McAllister seeks a second term against a raft of challengers.
In the 6th District, based around Baton Rouge but reaching down the Atchafalaya to bayou country, numerous contenders seek the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, who is challenging Landrieu.
We urge voters to cast informed ballots in those and other races, but that “informed” part is particularly important when it comes to no less than 14 amendments to the Louisiana Constitution. Those make this a longer ballot than usual, and the state’s top election officer urged voters to read up on them before going to vote. “If you walk in and face the legalese of the amendments for the first time, it will be tough,” Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler told the Press Club of Baton Rouge in a pre-election briefing.
Another unusual factor in this election is the date. It is Tuesday, which is the normal election day across the country. Louisiana elections are usually on Saturdays, but because it is a federal election day, the rules are slightly different. Polls open at 6 a.m., instead of the usual 7 a.m., for instance, and Schedler’s staff and parish elections officials across the state have faced some different rules in their preparations.
Runoffs, if necessary, will be on Saturday, Dec. 6.
Today, it comes down to the voter individually casting a secret ballot. We are fortunate to live in a democracy. Let’s show it today by active and informed participation in the process.