Secretary of state race not drawing voters' attention, analyst says

Secretary of State election

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The secretary of state’s race has been quiet.

Candidates had less time to campaign because of former secretary Tom Schedler’s early exit, and the winner will only hold the office for the remainder of Schedler’s term through 2019. Despite being third in the gubernatorial line of succession, the secretary of state is not a high-profile office, either.

“By nature, we don’t have much personality in this office, which drives Louisiana politics,” political analyst, Jim Engster, said. “As a result, the candidates aren’t really exciting anyone.”

Jim Engster, political analyst
Jim Engster, political analyst (WAFB)

The quiet campaigns could hurt voter turnout, which is already expected to be low. Engster says the only thing keeping the race interesting is late drama with the state’s contract to replace thousands of voting machines.

“The voting machine contract is an issue that’s not very personal,” Engster said. “We like issues in which candidates are calling each other names. That’s what gets people to the polls.”

The state’s top contract official canceled a deal between Dominion Voting Systems and Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to replace dated voting machines, ruling the bidding process was flawed. That decision has painted a larger target on the Ardoin’s back in the last month. Ardoin has called the criticism political “bologna.”

Engster says the race could be decided by fundraising. Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, currently leads the pack in cash on hand.

“She’s probably the favorite, but in a low turnout election, it all comes down to who votes," Engster said.

No matter who wins, 2019 will be a massive year for the next secretary of state. The winner will be responsible for buying new voting machines, instilling confidence in voters weary of election interference, and overseeing a governor’s race that’s sure to gain more interest than the current election season.

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