We hope Louisiana will need each and every one of the “I Voted” stickers this year, but the odds might be against it, even with a cool new design by Lafayette artist Tony Bernard.
The new stickers were recently unveiled by the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.
The stickers will be available for the Oct. 12 primary and Nov. 16 runoff elections for state offices, the Legislature and many local offices around the state. More than 3 million stickers are being printed to distribute among polling places, at a cost of $18,500, said Tyler Brey, spokesman for the secretary of state.
The stickers have been popular when printed by parish registrars of voters around the state, but they were also considered way-cool by many during the big-turnout 2016 presidential election.
Those stickers featured the famous “Blue Dog” of the late artist George Rodrigue.
A sticker might be helpful to encourage turnout, as folks will see their neighbors wearing them on Election Day. But the reality is that turnout is a bit of a problem in Louisiana.
This year, Gov. John Bel Edwards seeks a second term, having bested David Vitter in the 2015 runoff, in which about 40 percent of voters turned out, with a total of 1.15 million ballots cast. Turnout for what was a tough and negative race was not very high, but overall turnout has trended down.
In 2007, the previous contested race without an incumbent, almost 1.3 million people voted. Gov. Bobby Jindal was elected in the first round.
In the 2003 runoff, the late Gov. Kathleen Blanco was elected over Jindal, and 1.4 million voted. In 1991, more than 1.7 million voted in the race for Gov. Edwin Edwards’ fourth term, but that was because his runoff opponent was former Klansman David Duke.
More than 1.5 million voted in the crowded 1987 primary election for governor, with Edwin Edwards and many prominent state officials running, although without Klansmen in sight.
Turnout is affected by many factors, including acts of God like rainfall. Politicians closely examine whether local races, or those for the Legislature, might affect overall turnout in different parishes.
But clearly Louisiana turnout has been on a downward trend — except, of course, for 2016. In that presidential year, more than 2 million ballots were cast when Donald Trump handily carried the state.
That was the Blue Dog sticker election, but it’s probably more correct to ascribe the turnout to the heated national controversy.
What will turnout be like this year? Always difficult to predict, but we don’t think “I Voted” stickers will hurt.