Tuesday, 21 April 2015 18:39

Louisiana, Surprise! We're holding an election this Saturday

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surprisePlease keep this quiet; a secret election is set for Saturday May 2 in 28 Louisiana parishes. Politicians set the election on a day in which turnout will be minimal. In New Orleans, a tripling of the library millage is on the ballot during the second weekend of the Jazz Fest, at a time guaranteed to produce a very low turnout. Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler predicted a turnout in “the teens” on May 2. Of course, this is pitiful and goes against our beliefs in encouraging robust voter participation. It seems the last thing Louisiana politicians want is a strong voter turnout.

 

As usual, this low turnout election will be filled with property tax measures and other revenue raising schemes. They are usually set on dates when there is nothing else on the ballot and no hot races to spur increased voter interest.  

The politicians take advantage of the low turnout to subvert the will of the people. They make sure their friends, family and co-workers vote, knowing that it will skew the results toward approving a tax millage that otherwise would not pass.

In fact, politicians purposely set these election dates to help passage of potentially controversial tax issues. If the tax issues would be on the ballot during the October Governor’s race, when the turnout will be high, the voters would probably reject the tax measures.  

When given a choice, Louisiana voters usually rebuff tax increases, unless the proponents are successful with a media campaign. In Orleans Parish, former Crescent City First Ladies, as well as the nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, campaigned in favor of the library tax increase. In opposition, no significant political figure has emerged to lead the fight. Thus, only the library tax supporters are using the media to get their supporters to the polls.  

Along with the scant publicity about the election and the scam tactic used by politicians to take advantage of low voter turnout to pass tax issues, there is also the important issue of cost.

Louisiana is currently facing a $1.6 billion budget deficit. State officials should be looking for every possible way to save money. Instead this incredibly expensive low interest election was called for Saturday May 2. Secretary Schedler estimates that it will cost taxpayers approximately $2.07 million to hold this needless election as it costs $1250 for each of the 1656 precincts participating in the election.

It is essential that Louisiana legislators take action to stop this outrageous manipulation of our political system. We need to seriously limit the number of election dates. With fewer elections, turnout will be higher, voters will be more engaged and the result will be a true reflection of the electorate, instead of just a few insiders manipulating the political system.

Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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