Louisiana has lots of elections, but few in a lifetime can be described as watershed events. Tuesday's federal primary could well be such an election for the New Orleans area. It will mark the first time that Louisiana voters cast ballots in a federal election after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The storms were bad enough, but the local, state and federal responses often made the destruction even worse. On top of that, this is the first time that Congressman Bill Jefferson faces voters after news of his alleged involvement in a wide-ranging bribery scheme. This is our chance to speak out about a lot of things.
The most important thing that anyone can do this week is vote. Regardless of whether you support incumbents or challengers, Democrats or Republicans, President Bush or his critics, your opinion means nothing if you don't translate it into a vote on Tuesday. As you read these words, young American men and women are risking their lives -- here in our nation and around the globe -- to preserve our freedoms. The least we can all do to honor their collective sacrifice is to celebrate our freedom by exercising it at the ballot box.
In the New Orleans mayoral election last May, thousands of displaced voters took time to cast their ballots, some from as far away as Oregon and Maine. Many more drove great distances to New Orleans to vote in person. Tuesday's election features no satellite voting centers in other parts of Louisiana, although early voting and absentee voting continue as always.
The special statewide primary of Sept. 20 saw what may be a record low turnout as voters across Louisiana chose a new secretary of state and a new commissioner of insurance. Less than 12 percent of registered voters in New Orleans went to the polls, and the turnout was roughly half that in most African-American precincts. That's pathetic, particularly when you consider that the secretary of state is the chief elections officer of Louisiana and the commissioner of insurance will help regulate an industry that is crucial to Louisiana's post-storm recovery efforts. We must do better than that this time around.
Get out and vote this Tuesday. All our futures depend on it.
In the past two weeks, Gambit Weekly made recommendations to our readers with regard to the eight proposed constitutional amendments on Tuesday's ballot and for various candidates seeking state and congressional offices. Even if you disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to get out and vote -- and remind your neighbors to do likewise. This is your chance to make a difference. Don't let it pass you by.
[PUT FOLLOWING In A BALLOT-TYPE BOX]
Gambit Weekly Recommendations
First District Bobby Jindal
Second District Karen Carter
District 97 J. P. Morrell
Amendment 1 FOR
(Freeze certain tax assessments)
Amendment 2 FOR
(Severance tax revenue sharing)
Amendment 3 AGAINST
(Exempt rural leased medical equipment)
Amendment 4 FOR
(Remove auto property tax)
Amendment 5 FOR
(Exempt art on consignment)
Amendment 6 FOR
(Allow specialized judgeships)
Amendment 7 FOR
(Consolidate N.O. assessors)
Amendment 8 AGAINST
(New B.R. school district)