Voters talk outside a polling place at Edward Hynes Charter School in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood on Nov. 8, 2022. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office predicts voter turnout for the Nov. 18 general election will be low. Only 15% to 18% of eligible voters are expected to go to polls for a ballot that includes three statewide runoff elections.
The agency based its turnout projection on data from previous elections and interest in absentee ballots, spokesman John Tobler said. Enthusiasm for the election is expected to muted in large part because the governor’s race is already decided.
Attorney General Jeff Landy won the governor’s election outright in the Oct. 14 primary, leaving the runoff ballot without a major race at the top of the ticket.
“We’ve done interviews all across the state to build awareness” of the Nov. 18 election, Tobler said. “There is just not a lot of interest from the electorate.”
The statewide runoffs include contests between Democrat and Republican candidates for attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer. All are open seats, with Landry elevated to governor, Treasurer John Schroder finishing far back in governor’s race, and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin choosing not to seek reelection.
Four constitutional amendments are also on the Nov. 18 ballot, and several areas also have legislative, state school board and local government races. Voters can find out what will be on their local ballots by going to the secretary of state’s website or using the GeauxVote app on their mobile device.
Voter turnout for last month’s governor’s race was also considered weak, with just 36.3% of eligible voters participating.
LSU professor and political scientist Michael Henderson said low voter turnout elections in Louisiana have tended to benefit Republican candidates statewide office over the past two decades.
When turnout is weak, it doesn’t typically occur proportionally across the political spectrum in Louisiana. In general, Democrats stay home more than Republican voters when there is less enthusiasm, he said.
“Low turnout elections generally mean Republicans are getting a higher vote share,” Henderson said.
Henderson also said low voter turnout statewide, however, does not necessarily mean there will be more favorable conditions for Republicans in local elections. An individual race for sheriff or the legislature, for example, could still generate high local interest, regardless of statewide enthusiasm.
“Everything is different at the local level,” Hendeson said.
The early voting period for the Nov. 18 election started Friday and lasts through Nov. 11, with the exception of Sunday (Nov. 5) and next Friday (Nov. 10), the state holiday for Veterans Day. Polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for early voting.
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