With the runoff for senator from Mississippi over, the nation’s elections are pretty much in the bag for 2018.
Except, naturally, in Louisiana.
We love elections so much that we have many of them. Huey P. Long said that politics is the sport of kings. Our political seasons seem longer than the NFL’s.
But early voting continues through Saturday for the Dec. 8 runoff election, with a special election for secretary of state on the ballot statewide.
There are some significant local elections, particularly for two important tax issues in East Baton Rouge Parish, and parish charter amendments in New Orleans and Lafayette.
Still, it’s not the kind of runoff dance card that is likely to draw throngs of voters.
Last year, with a special election for state treasurer, and even with city elections in New Orleans, turnout was dismal. The primary election drew only 14 percent statewide, and the runoff was lower at 13 percent.
This year in Louisiana, voters showed up in major numbers for the primary election, perhaps in part because of the publicity surrounding the midterms. However, fears of another ultra-low turnout were raised for the Dec. 8 runoff because early voting the weekend after Thanksgiving began very slow.
A Republican pollster from Baton Rouge, John Couvillon, tracks early voting data. He says that fears of very poor turnouts have been alleviated by a pickup in early voting.
Typically, about 20 percent of voters now cast their ballots early. With another couple of days of early voting ahead, Couvillon reported, “while runoff turnout will be much less than in the primary, it now won’t be the worst turnout ever.”
In the first four days of early voting in the primary, a huge number — almost 180,000 — had voted. That number is significantly lower during the same period of early voting this month.
Nevertheless, the 67,000 votes cast in that four-day period seem to indicate enough interest in the election to avoid another embarrassing 2017 turnout number.
That’s the good news, but still one can’t help but note that the only statewide matter is that of the secretary of state runoff. In some towns or even parishes around the state, there may be nothing else on the ballot, almost ensuring a minimal turnout of voters.
We hope that the Legislature will look again at the process for filling vacancies in offices like that of secretary of state. The winner in the runoff will serve only until next year’s general state elections.
Maybe election fatigue is not going to result in another record low turnout, but this year’s races are still, according to Couvillon’s reading of the tea leaves, not a huge draw on Dec. 8.