The New Orleans Runoffs: Lessons for November 2006 and Beyond?
FairVote is poised to comment on several issues concerning the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the May 20 runoffs as well as November's congressional race and later municipal elections:
- Runoffs and campaign finance: The pressure of raising money quickly for a runoff election can be severe. Incumbent mayor Ray Nagin charges Mitch Landrieu is getting dollars from outside the city. What is the source of campaign dollars in the runoffs? How much will independent expenditures rise in the runoff compared to the first round of voting?
- Runoffs and displaced voters: Will turnout by absentee voters decline or rise in the runoff? Will turnout by military voters overseas decline or rise? Voters outside the state only had three weeks to receive and return absentee ballots. More generally, to what extent will displaced residents turn out to vote?
- Runoffs and election administration: Will conduct of the runoff improve relative to the first round in April? How much will the runoff election cost the city — in dollars and labor?
- Runoffs and overall turnout: Will voter turnout rise or fall? Runoff systems are notorious for low turnout in the second round. What might turnout in "down ballot" races have been in the runoff if the mayoral race had not been on the ballot? What are the implications for representativenss of election outcomes?
- District fairness and equal population issues: Has voter displacement worsened turnout disparities by city council ward? What might the impact of displacement be for the November 2006 elections?
FairVote and Louisiana Elections
FairVote has closely followed Louisiana election law and elections. In January 2006, it released a groundbreaking study of Hurricane Katrina's effect on voting populations, minority voting rights, district fairness and the potential partisan balance of southern Louisiana's U.S. House delegation. FairVote drew attention to "Louisiana's Electoral Disaster" with its December 2005 op-ed in the Washington Post and New Orleans Times-Picayune.
One of the leading election analysis and reform organizations in America, FairVote has analyzed election practices at home and abroad since 1992, at all levels of government, through the lenses of accurate representation, majority rule and participation. Rob Richie is Executive Director. Research Fellow Jack Santucci was lead author on the January 2006 study.