Later this week, voting machines will be moved from their secured warehouses to 3,904 precincts around the state.
Signs will be posted at Saturday’s polling stations. Commissioners will be hired for each precinct — four, sometimes five, at my voting location alone — each paid up to $250.
Louisiana is picking a new state treasurer who, before the end of the month, will start managing the state’s money, deciding which infrastructure projects get funding, and assuming the fourth position in the line of gubernatorial succession.
Given the projections that few people will participate, taxpayers will pay about $20 for each vote cast to cover the costs of this election. That’s roughly six times more than what the two candidates — Democrat Derrick Edwards and Republican John Schroder — will have spent for each ballot they win.
Democrat Derrick Edwards and Republican John Schroder made the runoff Saturday in the race for state treasurer.
The Oct. 14 primary also cost about $6 million and had the lowest turnout for a statewide election in recent Louisiana history. That title will be short lived, as experts calculate fewer will participate Saturday.
The expense has people talking about the need to postpone special statewide elections to coincide with federal races, even if it means the interim appointee has to sit in the temporary post for another year.
Interim Treasurer Ron Henson, for instance, picked up the baton in January after his boss of 20 years, John N. Kennedy, quit to become a U.S. senator.
Louisiana elects legislators, governors and other statewide officials in odd-numbered years. Congressional and presidential elections fall on even-numbered years.
Races to fill municipal and parish posts, as well as state House and Senate seats, are localized and don’t require monumental effort of staging an election statewide. Saturday’s runoff for House District 77 between Republicans Rob Maness and Mark Wright will involve 31 precincts in St. Tammany Parish. In Orleans Parish, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree M. Charbonnet, both Democrats, are competing in 351 precincts to become mayor.
Consolidation of statewide and federal races will keep the costs down and may even increase turnout, Secretary of State Tom Schedler told a national audience on C-SPAN last week. “I’ve been a big proponent for several years of a temporary appointment process,” he said.
C-SPAN's state-of-the-art tour bus attracted some of the state's leading politicians when it parked in front of the State Capitol on Tuesday.
The savings could go to, say, helping fund the popular TOPS grant that pays most college costs for students achieving modest scholastic standards, Schedler has said in interviews.
Sulphur Democratic state Rep. Mike Danahay, whose House & Governmental Affairs Committee would vet the legislation, said Schedler’s idea would be a difficult lift under the best of circumstances. A lot of word changes in a number of different laws would be needed. And that’s before considering the political opposition. Some candidates think small turnouts give them an edge.
The smart money is on the formation of a study commission.
Louisiana had a rare statewide opening this year for treasurer – a little-known position that has served as a bully pulpit to catapult at leas…
“I’m sure the Legislature could think of one or two stop-gap measures. They have solutions for blueberry festivals. I don’t think it’s that difficult,” said Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat. He’s admittedly nostalgic for the Edwin Edwards/Bennett Johnston days when 60 percent voter turnout was routine.
Recently, however, off-year statewide races have rarely attracted much attention. In 2006, special elections for secretary of state and commissioner of insurance pulled in right at 20 percent when both races are averaged. Last year’s U.S. Senate runoff attracted an anemic 29 percent of the state’s 2.9 million registered voters. Still, that’s roughly double the expected turnout Saturday.
Voter apathy is not unique to Louisiana.
Dallas last week turned out 6 percent of that county’s 1.3 million registered voters to decide the fate of school buses in Texas’ third largest city. In May 2015, only 6.7 percent of the registered voters participated in choosing a mayor.
Voter apathy has been climbing since the 1980s. Academic studies point to all sorts of reasons: frustration, mistrust, campaign costs and intrusive media, to name a few.
About half of Virginia’s 5.5 million voters turned out to elect a governor after a brutal advertising campaign scratched all sorts of societal scabs, from racism to porno. Democrat Ralph S. Northam soundly defeated Republican Ed Gillespie.
But Virginia is a moderate state compared to Louisiana, and political analyst G. Pearson Cross doesn’t see Republicans here crossing party lines. That plays into a lower turnout on Saturday.
“Republicans are more conservative and Democrats are more liberal,” said Cross, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “If you group Louisiana’s statewide elections together, you’d probably increase turnout and get a slightly different electorate.”
Secretary of State Tom Schedler seems downright depressed about the Nov. 18 runoff, when only one of 10 voters are expected to participate in …
As it is, both Edwards and Schroder are playing exclusively to those few voters who cast ballots in nearly every election.
The results are predictable because Schroder’s base of chronic voters is larger than Edwards’.