Secretary of State Tom Schedler indicated some 45 percent to 50 percent of Louisiana’s registered voters will vote in the Oct. 24 primary.
That’s an improvement over four years ago when Gov. Bobby Jindal was re-elected. In 2011, only 37 percent of registered voters bothered to go to the polls in one of the most boring races for governor of my lifetime.
We’ll probably never witness voter turnout as high as it was in 1991 when Edwin Edwards was elected to a fourth term in a landslide against David Duke. That year, a hyper turnout among black voters helped drive overall turnout to 70 percent. Having a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan on the ballot will do that.
Still, a turnout of 45 percent to 50 percent, historically speaking, is the norm though it’s abysmal if you ask me. It’s especially disappointing in light of the vast problems facing Louisiana as well as the man who will take office in early January.
Why, you might ask, are voters so uninterested in elections as important as the ones that will appear on the ballot in a week and a half, such as governor, attorney general, sheriff, state Senate and so on?
That’s the big mystery among politicos of all stripes and colors. The genius who figures out how to convince voters that participating in elections is vitally important to the overall wellbeing of the Republic will become a rich man. Or woman.
Don’t hold your breath.
Even today, after some $10 million has already been spent in the governor’s race, I don’t get the impression too many people are concerned about it. Few people talk about it and even fewer volunteer the name of their favorite candidate. What does that tell us?
It could indicate a growing number of voters simply feel their votes don’t matter. It could be a voter is reluctant to speak openly and honestly about politics out of fear of being ridiculed. The visceral tone in politics today drives the latter.
Without a doubt, the absence of televised debates in which all candidates for governor were on hand has played a role in the failure of the electorate to engage this year’s governor’s race. Only once have we witnessed all four major candidates on the same stage for a televised debate, and that one, some two weeks ago at WDSU in New Orleans, was a sham. The questions were ridiculously light and off target. Whoever is responsible for putting that debate together should be fired and if it was possible, indicted for malfeasance.
Even Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s “big” debate this week won’t attract every candidate. Sen. David Vitter won’t be there. He had a scheduling conflict.
That’s a shame.
But Vitter will be on hand Thursday, along with Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, for a televised debate hosted by KTBS at La. Tech in Ruston.
It’s a debate, alright, if you want to call it that.
Each candidate was supposed to receive the questions in advance. The candidates will appear before a panel of reporters selected by someone who’s nameless and members of the press who want to cover the event for their respective employers will be sequestered in another room in another area of the building in which the debate will be held. They will watch the debate on TV like the rest of us. So will the students at Tech, who are barred from attending the debate, too.
And no candidate is obligated to meet with the press following the debate to answer any follow-up questions.
Does that appear to be a debate to you? It’s another sham, if you ask me.
And we wonder why a 50 percent voter turnout for any election is considered a success.