The most controversial measure comes courtesy of state Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, who wants lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment that would force local governments and political subdivisions to adhere to new guidelines for tax elections. The coming debate could be a barnburner, pitting the business lobby against school boards, parish councils, police juries, mayors and other local entities.But, if you are going to do this, you might as well hold to your principle and go the whole nine yards with it. I might be persuaded, for example, by a law that invalidates ANY election result if the turnout is less than 50% of eligible voters. Make them all keep running until we get some kind of consensus.
Allain’s Senate Bill 200 would require a minimum turnout of 20 percent of active voters to validate a local tax election. Under Allain’s measure, even if a tax were to pass with no opposing votes, the ballot wouldn’t count if turnout was one vote less than the proposed threshold. “If we’re going to take people’s hard-earned money, there should be a higher standard,” Allain said.
He contends local governments often schedule tax referenda during off-elections, where there are no high-profile races on the ballot and turnout will be low. “That ends up costing taxpayers more when they do that,” he said. “They pay huge amounts of money to participate in off-elections.”
Last month, when the Orleans Parish runoffs for sheriff and City Council were on the ballot alongside three tax proposals, turnout was 25 percent. In February, when the mayor’s race topped the ballot with six other tax questions, turnout was 35 percent. The last time Orleans saw a ballot with only propositions on it was in July 2008, when four property tax proposals produced a turnout of roughly 5 percent.
We might end up having to cancel some parades and stuff, according to some people.
Low voter turnout in key precincts as well as Williams winning the early voting was too much for her campaign to overcome, Hedge-Morrell said.
"In key areas I did really well in (the primary) we dropped 50 percent in turnout," Hedge-Morrell said referring to the Upper 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly and eastern New Orleans.
She cited the St. Patrick's Day festivities as one reason for the low turnout.
"How do we get people to realize you can go to the St. Patrick's parade but you can vote first," Hedge-Morrell said. "It's hard to engage people with the seriousness of the issues we're dealing with. How do we get these people re-engaged?"