Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:51 PM
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.
Posted By: Doug On: 10/10/2012
Title: Absolutely, Mr. Shedler
l agree wholeheartedly. I get so sick of seeing election placards all over town. First of all, they should only be permitted on commercial property; they are eyesores. If I lived in Lake Charles I would NEVER participate in so many ridiculous elections.
Posted By: Timothy Trahan On: 10/10/2012
I am wondering what data was used by Mr. Schedler. Too often people throw out "facts" with no actual facts to back them up. Again, I am just wondering.