Last Modified: Monday, December 10, 2012 7:08 PM
The four election commissioners of Precinct 313 East opened the doors of John F. Kennedy Elementary at 6 a.m. Saturday and waited for the first voter to show up.
A few voters from 313 West trickled through the doors, but by noon it was a possibility that no one was going to show up at 313E, Commissioner Evelyn Hawkins said.
When the doors closed at 8 p.m., that possibility had become a reality — none of the 411 registered voters in 313E had cast a ballot in the race for the 3rd Congressional District of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Republican Charles Boustany defeated Republican Jeff Landry with 61 percent of the vote. In Calcasieu, Boustany gained 13,301 votes to 4,413 for Landry.
“It was kind of on the boring side,” Hawkins said. “But we chipped in and helped (313W).
Twenty-four people voted in 313W.
“Even though we didn’t have much work to do, we enjoyed it,” Hawkins said. “We kept each other company.”
Overall, there was a low turnout Saturday — 15 percent of registered voters went to the polls in Calcasieu Parish, down from the 64 percent that turned out Nov. 6 to vote in the presidential election, Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said.
Precinct 313E, though, was the only local district that didn’t cast a vote.
Precinct 309E, which votes at Reynaud Community Center, was the next lowest with only 10 votes.
Geographically sitting east of Lake Charles, 313E roughly stretches from Interstate 210 to La. 397. The precinct breaks down into 198 Democrats, 39 Republicans and 174 third-party or unaffiliated, said Registrar of Voters Angie Quienalty. Quienalty said the precinct has 255 black voters, 117 white voters and 39 voters of other ethnic backgrounds.
Jones guessed that in a Democrat-heavy precinct, “they chose to stay home with two Republican candidates.”
In the Nov. 6 election, the precinct favored Democratic Ron Richard, with 91 votes. Thirty-three votes were cast for Boustany and six for Landry.
Jones also pointed out, though, that the 33 percent turnout at 313E on Nov. 6 was nearly half the parish average.
Registrar of Voters Angie Quienalty suggested that Barbe playing in the Class 5A state championship and Christmas shopping also affected the low turnout.
Paulette Dartez, the clerk of court’s director of elections, said the police jury weighs each year whether to re-draw precinct lines.
It isn’t the first time no one showed up to vote in a precinct or the first time no one has shown up to vote in 313E. Quienalty gave 10 instances in the last five years, the last three belonging to 313E.
The most recent was Aug. 28, 2010, when no one in 313E showed up to vote in a senate primary.
She said that zero turnout at a precinct usually happens when a tax proposition or some smaller proposition is on the ballot.
In some foreign countries people risk their lives to cast a ballot and “we can’t even get ours to vote,” Quienalty said.