Constitutional amendments nearly always elicit yawns, but this November’s ballot is shaping up as an exception. In fact, the second ballot question, the one that asks whether voters want to change a nearly unique Louisiana law that requires only 10 of 12 jurors to convict someone in state court, is shaping up as the season’s marquee issue.
That’s partly because there isn’t much else going on. Neither senator is up for reelection, and all six U.S. House members are heavily favored for reelection. The only statewide contest, for the normally low-profile post of secretary of state, isn’t exactly capturing people’s imaginations.
But there’s plenty of buzz over Amendment #2 – and likely to be more as Election Day approaches. Big outside donors have contributed over $1 million to a liberal effort to promote the cause. Major conservative groups are making their own pushes too, including with highly-produced online videos. The visibility reflects not just the importance of the issue in many minds, but also the unusually diverse coalition behind requiring guilty verdicts to be unanimous.
Indeed, only one significant player, Attorney General Jeff Landry, has lined up against the measure. And even he seems more focused on other issues these days, including his intervention in a lawsuit over a New York City gun law.
There may not be much, or any, television advertising. The two ideological camps are using different arguments to make their case, with the left focusing more on racial fairness and the right on small government and constitutionalism. Besides, this is expected to be a low turnout election.
But there will plenty of activity in person and online. And, it seems, plenty of money to pay for it.