September 21, 2017
Get ready for a Jungle Primary, and other New Orleans election tidbits
Yes, it’s true. Louisiana has the craziest of all elections in America. Jungle primaries, multi-parish elections, special elections, voting for Coroner… who can keep track? Voters Organized to Educate is one organization created to simplify the process and get more people engaged.
Louisiana combines the primary elections so that people of every party (or no party) are on the same ballot. This is the “Jungle Primary.” If anyone gets 50%, plus 1 vote, then they win. Short of that, the top two vote-getters in the primary will proceed to a run-off election, regardless of party affiliation.
Primary Elections; Oct. 18th
October 14th is New Orleans’ primary election for Mayor and all seven City Council seats, along with several judges and other officials. Although the Sheriff race was hoped to be a genuine debate on important issues in the world’s most incarcerated city, it ultimately was a walk-over for incumbent Sheriff Marlin Gusman.
Louisiana has Early Voting, a 2-week period before the elections when people can drop into pre-determined sites to vote at their leisure. This allows for people who have transportation or work issues, or who will be out of town, to participate in the election. In New Orleans, roughly half of people vote early.
September 30th – Oct. 11th is Early Voting in the New Orleans primary at four locations:
- City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street, Room 1W24
- Algiers Courthouse. 225 Morgan Street, Room 105
- Chef Menteur Voting Machine Warehouse Site, 8870 Chef Menteur Highway
- Lake Vista Community Center, 6500 Spanish Fort Blvd.
Run-Off Elections: November 18th
Run-Off Elections are expected for the Mayor’s race, as 18 candidates are vying for that magical 51%. Furthermore, nearly half the City Council are likely to go to the Run-Off, including highly contested races in Districts A, B, and E, where there is an average of five candidates in each.
People can still register to vote in the essential run-off elections, up until Oct. 18th.
On November 3rd – 11th, Early Voting is open for the run-off.
November 18th will be Election Day for all those who missed the window to vote early.
Each state has the power to create their own voting laws, and they time many elections to coincide with the federal elections because the federal government pays states to hold those November elections for Congress, Senate, and President. In 2020, for example, while many people are focused solely on the U.S. President, Louisiana will be electing state legislators, district attorneys, and judges.
Louisiana holds elections every spring, and the last major New Orleans spring election was 2014. Only 82,000 voters participated in the Primary, and only 60,000 in the Run-Off. Meanwhile, the last Presidential election turned out 160,000 voters in Orleans Parish. In an “off year,” winning 51% might only be 31,000 people in a city of 350,000.
This is our democracy.
The history of voting rights and elections is the history of American power. Starting with the white male property owners who drafted a Constitution giving themselves all the political power, many people of America have since fought hard to win equal rights. Over 200 years and several wars later, America still denies voting rights to people based on convictions. Following the Civil War and the ‘end’ of slavery, before women and people of Color gained voting rights, America passed the 13th Amendment to allow the legalization of slavery (and denial of voting rights) if someone were convicted of a crime. Thus began the Convict Lease Labor system, where plantation owners, railroads, and others would rent the people they used to own. It was even more barbaric for the slaves than that which preceeded it.
Today, some Americans in government seek to eliminate fairness in elections. Tactics include barring people from the polls, moving polls to where they are hard to reach, increased identification requirements, eliminating the Voting Rights Act’s federal oversight, and mysterious uses of computerized ballots. Voters Organized to Educate is here to stand against all of that, and whatever they come up with next!