Schedler: Voter apathy dampens elections

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Schedler

Louisiana is one of the top states in the nation when it comes to voter turnout, secretary of state Tom Schedler says, but voter apathy is still a challenge.

“Voter apathy is a challenge nationally, not just here in Louisiana,” he said in an email to the Press-Herald. “In fact, Louisiana was one of only two states in the country to increase voter participation in the 2012 presidential elections.”

Webster Parish registrar of voters Melanie Smith says presidential elections tend to have a higher turnout than that of other elections, such as gubernatorial races.

In 2012 in Webster Parish, the presidential election showed a 70.71 percent voter turnout, she said. In 2008, the number was much the same with a 70.03 percent turnout. In 2004, the number came in around 68.1 percent.

The gubernatorial turnout in the 2003 election was 52.3 percent, in 2007, it was 47.10 percent, and in 2011, statistics show voter turnout at 36.67 percent in Webster Parish.
For the Oct. 24 election, Smith says there are 25,181 registered voters, with the parish population right at 41,207, according to the 2010 census.

“All of our population is not eligible to register to vote because they are underage or for other reasons,” she said, “but that’s a pretty good registration rate.”

“Louisiana has one of the highest voter registration statistics in the nation, with close to 85 percent of our eligible voters registered, but our participation on election days is much lower,” Schedler said. “Making voting quick and easy is one way we have attempted to combat voter apathy and fatigue. Ultimately, voting requires personal responsibility, but the Secretary of State and other local election officials can certainly attempt to assist voters with easy access to information that makes the voting process that much easier for citizens living busy lives like we all do.”

The secretary of state’s office offers easy ways for voters to register and to vote. Voters can download an app to their smartphone that will allow them to see what’s on the ballot and get real-time election results the night of the election.

Schedler also emphasizes early voting as another easy way to cast a ballot.

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