Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Louis Keller reports encouraging news for the elections on Tuesday, Nov. 5. There's been a 30 percent voter turnout among 550 registered voters with physical disabilities -- the first to vote in every New Orleans election, thanks to a special voting-assistance program sponsored by the registrar's office. Considering the added difficulties many of these voters face on a daily basis, that's inspiring. At least, it should be.
Less inspiring are numbers reported by Secretary of State Fox McKeithen, who is predicting a mere 38 to 40 percent voter turnout statewide -- even though a U.S. Senate seat and all seven congressional seats are on the ballot. Only about one half of the eligible voters even register to vote and only half of those go to the polls. "So you've got 25 percent voting and that means 12.5 percent plus one vote decides who will be in office. That's scary," McKeithen said last week.
At least, it should be. In Orleans Parish, there are more than a quarter of a million registered voters for Tuesday's election. Yet Keller is predicting only a 40 to 43 percent turnout in Orleans Parish. That's not enough, especially considering the fact that voters will be electing the city's first new district attorney in almost 30 years, and the first African-American district attorney in New Orleans history.
Simply put, we're in an electoral slump. The dismal 26 percent turnout for the Oct. 5 primary election was unacceptable. So was the 45 percent turnout for the March 2 runoff election for the first New Orleans mayor of the 21st century.
Our city's highest voter turnout in modern times was 76 percent -- the number achieved when Dutch Morial was elected mayor in 1977 and when Mayor Moon Landrieu was elected in 1969, according to pollster Ed Renwick. That's a full quarter-century ago.
There is no excuse for avoiding the polls on Election Day. As columnist Molly Ivins says elsewhere in these pages, if you want unprecedented political power -- two, five or even ten votes -- make sure you vote on Tuesday, and then call your friends and family members and get them to vote, too.
Gambit Weekly makes the following recommendations for this Tuesday's elections:
United States Senate
United States House of Representatives
Orleans Parish District Attorney
Jefferson Parish Charter Amendments
No. 1 (Line-item veto) -- FOR
No. 2 (Parish Council reconfiguration) -- AGAINST
No. 3 (End lifetime ban on Parish Council term limits) -- AGAINST
No. 4 (Petition to circumvent Parish Council term limits) -- AGAINST
Constitutional Amendments (statewide)
Amendment No. 1. (Legislative sessions) -- FOR
Amendment No. 2. (Income/sales tax swap) -- FOR
Amendment No. 3. (Budget cut flexibility) -- FOR
Amendment No. 4. (Fire felons in government) -- FOR
Amendment No. 5 (Tax break for developers of retirement communities) -- FOR
Amendment No. 6. (Supplemental pay) -- AGAINST
Amendment No. 7. (One-time filing for senior tax break) -- FOR
Amendment No. 8. (Higher education investments) -- FOR
Amendment No. 9. (Medicaid trust fund investment) -- FOR
Amendment No. 10. (Groundwater conservation trust fund) -- AGAINST
Amendment No. 11. (Offshore drilling rigs tax break) -- FOR
Amendment No. 12. (Incumbent protection-exemption for Livingston Parish coroner) -- AGAINST