October 29th, 2015
LOUISIANA ELECTIONS? WHO
Do a majority of folks in Louisiana even care about who
governs them in the coming years?
wouldn’t think so based on election turnout in last week’s gubernatorial
Election officials had
projected just under 50% turnout. As a former head of elections during my time
as Secretary of State, I had projected a bit above 40%.
The final total was a miserable 38.5%.
Now remember that some 30% of adults over eighteen who could
register have not done so.
the less than 30% of Louisianans over eighteen bothered to show up at the polls
And with a competitive runoff
for governor and a number of other races, projections are even lower for the
runoff less than thirty days away. I wrote in last week’s column as to why the
lack of interest.
So what can be done to spark more “election
fever” in the future?
First, eliminate all election dates but one.
We have way too many elections.
In the past year alone, Louisiana has held 10
different elections. All these special and local elections could wait until one
election date a year. The savings to taxpayers would be some six million
And why have statewide elections in the fall to begin with?
Many other states hold elections in the spring. Fall elections compete with LSU
and Saints football along with fairs and festivals. A spring date would
engender more interest.
Second, go back to party primaries.
Louisiana is the only state in the nation
that has our convoluted open primary system.
When all candidates run in the same primary election, political parties
become more irrelevant. But when candidates run within the old closed primary
system, democrats and republicans alike are out working for their respective
candidates in an organized fashion to get out the vote. The closed primary
system generates a much greater interest.
Third, strictly enforce the laws that prohibit a candidate
from coordinating with a third party PAC.
Millions of dollars poured into Louisiana from outside the state by sham
PACs set up by the candidates.
such PACs but the Supreme Court recently made them legal.
Candidates are prohibited by law from any
involvement or coordination.
candidates and PACs regularly violate the law.
Without all this outside money, candidates will have to get
back to “retail” politicking; showing up at fairs and festivals, riding in
local parades, and re-engaging directly with voters.
This will certainly create more interest on Election
Forth, make voting easier. The world has changed in some
many ways. You can buy, sell, conduct business, pay your bills and taxes, and
interrelate in just about any possible way with the exception of how you
Why does one have to get in their
car, drive to a polling location, wait in line, all just to vote?
Isn’t it possible to design a system to allow
voting electronically wherever you happen to be?
Oh, the naysayers will holler wide spread election
I disagree. A voter could enter
their social security number on a smart phone and cast their ballot. Yes, it
would be possible to use a family member’s number to illegally vote.
But someone who would attempt such a scheme
is messing with your right to pick those who run the country and keep us
So stick them criminally if any
attempt is made to defraud the system.
How about a minimum of ten years in jail for such perpetrators?
Fifth, let Hard-Working Undocumented
Immigrants Vote: Just kidding. I wanted to see if you're still paying attention.
But seriously, how about this idea.
If we eliminate all these special elections,
the state will save millions of dollars in elections costs. So let’s give some
of those savings back. When a voter finishes cast their ballot, the system
gives them a number. That’s right. A lottery number! The state takes $500,000
of that multi-million dollars savings, and the lottery picks twenty different
voters to each receive $25,000 for being a winner in casting their vote. Think
of the renewed interest and higher turnout that would take place.
Poll after poll indicates that Louisiana citizens have
little confidence in how their state is being run.
But the present system offers little
incentive and too many roadblocks to make voting easier.
Maybe a little creative thinking by new
legislators in Baton Rouge could help in getting voters out of their current
doldrums. There is really not much at stake.
Well, except for the future of our kids and our quality of life.
officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” -- George Jean Nathan
Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout
the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns
and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s
nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am,
central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.