Mann: Why your vote counts

Our favorite journalism professor-blogger on why allowing fewer than half of eligible voters to decide our next governor is bad for democracy


Are you OK with 12 to 16 percent of Louisiana’s voting-age population deciding who gets into the runoff and fewer than 25 percent deciding who the next governor will be in the runoff? That’s the scenario Louisiana faces if the secretary of state’s voter-turnout projection — 45 to 50 percent — holds true.

LSU journalism professor and blogger Robert Mann, in a post titled “There’s no majority rule in Louisiana elections: Why you should vote for governor on Saturday” at his blog Something Like the Truth, makes a strong argument for voter participation. In broad strokes: If you don’t vote, you cede our civic decision making to a minority:

As of January 2015, Louisiana’s voting-age population was 3,536,183. Those are the people in Louisiana, age 18 and older, who are qualified to vote (i.e., U.S. citizens, residents of Louisiana, not in prison, or who have not had their voting rights revoked).

Of that voting age population, 2,893,282 people were registered to vote in Louisiana as of Oct. 1, 2015. In other words, 82 percent of those eligible to vote are registered to vote.

Of that number, only about 45 percent to 50 percent will vote on Saturday, according to the Secretary of State’s office (which has usually been accurate in its predictions of voter turnout).

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that the number will be on the higher end, at 50 percent. That means that about 1,446,000 people will vote for governor and other offices (although the down-ballot percentages usually drop off).

Or, put another way, only 41 percent of Louisiana’s voting-age population will participate in Saturday’s election.

Now, let’s assume that Sen. David Vitter gets 30 percent of the vote on Saturday, which would undoubtedly be enough to put him into a runoff.

With a 50 percent turnout, 30 percent of the vote would be 433,992 votes. That means that Vitter would win a spot in the runoff by winning only 12 percent of the state’s voting-age population. Let’s say that Rep. John Bel Edwards makes the runoff with 40 percent of the vote (578,656 votes). That’s only 16 percent of the state’s voting-age population.

Read the full blog here.