Schedler: Too many elections leads to low voter turnout

By By John Guidroz / American Press

The state’s low voter turnout is largely because too many elections are scheduled per year, Secretary of State Tom Schedler

told members of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Charles on Tuesday.

“Aside from presidential elections, voter turnout is dismal at best,” he said. “It is truly an embarrassment. We’re very used

to elections on top of elections.”

Schedler, the state’s chief elections officer, said Louisiana held 70 elections from January 2005 to January 2010 — the most

nationwide. The No. 2 state, Georgia, held 38 elections.

“When we have that many, the importance of elections gets diminished,” he said.

Of those 70 elections, Schedler said,

32 were items for state legislators who did not finish their terms. He

said the Legislature

passed a bill in 2010 requiring those posts to be filled in the

next available election, cutting back the number of special

elections held each year.

Schedler said he is reviewing local elections and propositions that are voted on frequently, like tax renewals. He said fewer

elections would cut organization costs and would hopefully improve voter turnout.

Schedler said the removal of voters from the rolls is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the process. It is done every

two years, and it is against the law to take anyone off the voting log 90 days before a federal election.

He said the voter registrars in each parish are required by federal and state law to review voter rolls each year. The state

has 84 percent of its eligible voters registered — fourth best in the nation. Schedler said the state’s election system is

consistent, including the type of voting machines used.

In 1997, Louisiana became the third

state to require a photo ID before a person could vote. Schedler said

the state is unique

in that if people do not have an ID, they can answer a series of

questions on an affidavit to verify their identity. During

the 2008 federal election, he said only one verifying affidavit

was questioned.

The free mobile application from www.geauxvote.com allows people to change their party affiliation and their mailing address

and locate their voting precinct, Schedler said.

He said that he, along with other

secretaries of state, recently visited several countries in the Middle

East to meet with

the military and find out how the overseas voter program was

working. He said he came up with the “Honor Vets. Vote.” program,

where a vote pays tribute to a veteran.

The secretary of state works with clerks of court and voter registrars in each parish during elections.

Online: www.sos.la.gov/honorvets.