Louisiana voters who cast a ballot in today’s election will get an “I voted” sticker featuring the late Acadiana artist George Rodrigue’s iconic Blue Dog, a token that comes courtesy of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office and a foundation that honors Rodrigue’s legacy.
Blue seems an appropriate color for this Election Day, which is headlined by two major party presidential candidates who have many voters feeling in the dumps. Maybe officials overseeing this year’s election should have issued each voter a clothespin, too.
It has, after all, been a hold-your-nose campaign season, one that’s culminated in a White House race that could be a squeaker. Although Louisiana, a reliably red state in national elections, seems likely to end up in the GOP column in today’s presidential race, the contest between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton has attracted lots of interest statewide, with early voting totals reaching a record high. By last week, more than half a million voters across the state had cast ballots — an especially impressive number given the enormous distractions of the state’s recovery efforts. Although north Louisiana is still rebounding from spring flooding and much of south Louisiana continues to struggle from last August’s rising waters, many residents in those regions took the time to vote.
We hope that level of engagement continues today. Discontent with Washington, D.C. deadlock runs high these days, as the nation’s leaders take heat for dodging hard choices. But voters face an obligation to tackle hard choices of their own. Simply sitting out this election because the options seem dreary is a cop-out. Voters who don’t bother to pull a lever for any candidate aren’t meaningfully protesting the poverty of our politics; they are contributing to it.
What’s more, the decisions on today’s ballot go beyond the presidential race. In Louisiana, a hotly contested race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. David Vitter is also up for grabs, along with U.S. House contests, too.
Baton Rouge residents will vote for a new mayor and Metro Council, and decide on taxes for parks and senior citizens services. New Orleans voters will weigh in on a proposed change to the local charter dealing with management of agencies that handle government ethics and police oversight. There are many other local items on the ballot in areas throughout south Louisiana, and statewide, voters will cast ballots on six proposed changes to the Louisiana constitution.
The Advocate’s previously published positions on these issues are available online at theadvocate.com. Other helpful information about the constitutional amendments can be found at the websites of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, parlouisiana.org, and the Council for a Better Louisiana, cabl.org. The Bureau of Governmental Research’s findings on the proposed charter change for New Orleans can be found at bgr.org.
We urge all voters who have not done so to go to the polls and cast an informed ballot. The politicians and pundits have had their say for months. Now, it’s your turn.