Jindal Postpones Louisiana Primaries

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (GIN-dle) yesterday issued an executive order delaying the Bayou State’s party primaries for Congress, which had been slated for Saturday. The primaries will likely be re-scheduled for September 13, although that’s not yet certain. The runoff (or second) primaries will be held on Saturday, October 4. The delay, of course, comes in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

From 1978-2006, Louisiana used nonpartisan elections[1] (popularly called “open primaries” there and in Mississippi) to elect its congressional officials. The Bayou State has elected its state and local officials in “open primaries” since 1975.

Louisiana has registered voters by party since 1916. The Democrats are inviting independents to vote in their congressional primaries, while the Republicans are not.

Meanwhile, Washington has this year become only the second state– after Louisiana– to use nonpartisan elections to choose all of its state and congressional officials. The Evergreen State calls its system the “top two,” which is a much more accurate term for nonpartisan elections than “open primary.”

One of the arguments used by advocates of the “top two”/”open primary” is that it increases voter turnout, since it enables voters to choose among ALL the candidates in the first round. That was not the case in the August 19 first round of Washington’s “top two,” however. According to the secretary of state’s website, the turnout was 42.58 percent of registered voters. In contast, the turnout was 45.14 percent in 2004, when the state had party primaries.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, one of the strongest backers of the “top two,” had predicted a 46 percent turnout for August 19.

Thanks to Ballot Access News.


[1] There are no party primaries, and all candidates, including independents, are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff.

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