Closed Primary Elections Expected to Cost More - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Closed Primary Elections Expected to Cost More

With April 5th's runoff election coming up, you've likely heard lots of talk about the closed primary system for federal elections. Proponents say it puts Louisiana on the same election schedule with the rest of the country. However, wait until you find out how much it's going to cost. It's your tax money. WAFB's Avery Davidson explains why this year's elections will likely cost more than future elections.

You've probably heard the saying that every vote counts. Well, with Louisiana now using the closed primary system, it's costing more to get the results of those votes. People in Baton Rouge and near New Orleans are experiencing this first hand, as they vote in the special primary and runoff elections for the first and sixth congressional seats, and then face an additional general election in May. That's where the Republican and Democratic candidates who won their party's nominations face independent candidates.

"The additional cost of three elections over two is substantial." Political analyst Jim Engster says one of the reasons Louisiana used the old open primary system was to save money. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne says because of the closed primary system, Louisiana will spend an additional one million dollars on special elections in the spring and he says there is a very strong possibility the state will have to spend an additional five million dollars in the fall. Dardenne says money is not the reason for the change. "Under our old open primary system, we were potentially sending our congressmen later than other states who had completed their elections in November, whereas, we potentially had runoffs in December."

"The whole nation watched because we were the only election in December," Engster says. This year, you'll likely be watching more campaign ads, because after the special elections, "We gotta do it all over again in the fall. So, conceivably, a candidate will have to run six elections in eight months in order to win a term that's for two years and they'll be off and campaigning in a few months after their term begins. And it's an exhausting process. You gotta wonder who would want to put up with this? Who really wants the job that badly?" Engster asks.

It appears at least four candidates do, and at an extra cost for you. Engster says what's even more interesting about this election is that it is very possible because of the low voter turnout in the spring elections that the winner of the sixth congressional seat could lose in the fall. Engster says that's because turnout will be much higher for the presidential race, so it will depend on which party sends more people to the polls. Saturday (March 29) is the last day for early voting in the sixth congressional district runoff. Polls are open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The election is being held to fill Representative Richard Baker's seat. Election day is set for April 5th.

Reporter:  Avery Davidson, WAFB 9NEWS

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