This weekend New Orleanians must make dismal choices from among the most unpalatable of combatants in a miserable joyless contest to determine the least objectionable outcome. And that's just the SuperBowl. The municipal elections are actually worse.
This morning, the streets uptown are a bit more lively than I was expecting. The ladies running my polling location report that business has been "steady." The weather is nice. There's a chance turnout will exceed that of the last such exercise, although the bar is set a bit low there.
Turnout in 2010 was just 33 percent, and it may not be any higher this year. The number of early voters was down significantly this year.On the other hand, I can't recall a citywide election met with quite this degree of apathy. No doubt the candidates themselves are to blame for much of that. The calendar is also a problem. Any January the Saints are in the playoffs can extend the disengaged holiday atmosphere weeks into the new year. And, of course, the #Sneauxpocalypse overshadowed everything during the final week when the campaign should have dominated the news.
Also on the ballot are numerous other races, including for six City Council seats and a heated campaign for sheriff.
But you shouldn't let this discourage you. The old saw tells us that voting "only encourages" the terrible candidates. But it's important to remember that elections aren't really about them. Elections are about you. Even awful elections, like this one, are your most potent opportunity to at least threaten the ruling classes with the fact that you are paying attention. For the most part, they hate when you do that. So go out there and make them miserable.
This is not to say it isn't also fun in the meantime. District A Candidate Drew Ward appears to be having some sort of problem.
Dear @susanguidry quit stealing my goddamn signs you worthless bitch! Yes #nola my official position: Guidry is a dishonest worthless bitch!
— Drew Ward (@drewward) February 1, 2014
In fairness to Ward, he spent a lot of time working on those signs. Here is a seemingly endless video where he rambles on for a time while describing his homemade sign making process
I kept waiting for him to throw in some "Happy Little Trees"
Anyway, speaking of homemade signs, I ran into perennial anti-candidate Quentin Brown this morning. (He is performing in the sheriff's race this year.)
I attended a forum with the Sheriff candidates a few weeks ago which included Brown's.. um extemporaneous musings on the issues. I'm behind on blogging this election but I might still put the details of that up at some point. It was highly entertaining and a welcome relief from the task of distinguishing from among Quentin's more serious opponents.
We were not as lucky in the mayor's race where Manny Bruno was forced out early under somewhat mysterious circumstances. His name appears on the ballot today but voters are warned that the button next to it does not work.
In any case, it's not too late to join the fun! Here are some links to helpful voting information.
This is a link to the Louisiana Secretary of State's "Voter Portal" where you will find information about your polling location, sample ballots, and results after the polls are closed.
But watch out for this kind of thing.
Polling station @sophie b. wright has been moved to 1111 Milan. pic.twitter.com/LEf0sGHIOU
— New Orleans Advocate (@theadvocateno) February 1, 2014
That's a polling location change from one charter school to another. Except the locations of New Orleans's charter schools are so perpetually in flux that it took them a couple of takes to get the sign right.
The New Orleans League of Women Voters publishes a thorough election guide complete with candidate answers to a standard questionnaire.
Here is a 2014 "Candidate Scorecard" designed by "coalition of local organizations including the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, Puentes New Orleans, The Lens and the Committee for a Better New Orleans."
The endorsements of the Times-Picayune, Gambit, and Louisiana Weekly are available via those links. Don't let those people tell you how to vote, though. They are all often very wrong about a great many things and this is especially true when it comes to electoral politics. But read through their opinions anyway if you have the time. It's always helpful to know what point of view the people who tell the daily story of your government's doings are coming from.
And, of course, if all else fails, there's the quick-and-dirty guide to voting in New Orleans. 1) Take a walk around the Garden District or in and around Audubon Place. 2) Observe the names on all the yard signs displayed. 3) Do not vote for any of those people.
In sum, though, your choices today are between some pretty awful people and some other downright evil people. Good luck to all the voters!