A "Massive" and "Unprecedented" Louisiana Turnout Drive

Rule of thumb: When a voter registration drive is described as massive, that means it's modest. When it's described as historic, that means it's typical. ...
by | June 9, 2008

Rule of thumb: When a voter registration drive is described as massive, that means it's modest. When it's described as historic, that means it's typical. And when it's described as unprecedented, perhaps you should take notice -- but perhaps not.

With that note of skepticism, I'll pass along this report from John Maginnis' (subscription-only) LaPolitics Weekly:

A massive voter registration drive backed by the Louisiana Democratic Party has deluged parish registrar offices with tens of thousands of applications, possibly resulting in a significant increase of Democrats going to the polls this fall. Registrars in the four largest parishes report that the unprecedented volume, along with problems in verifying some of the data, are clogging the system and could cause confusion and delays on Election Day in November.

   "I've seen nothing as massive as some of these drives going on," said Jefferson Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco, echoing the assessments of officials in Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes.

   State Democratic party spokesman Brian Walsh said the drive has nearly reached its goal of 70,000 applications from areas described as low-income and under-represented. He said the party is paying Voting Is Power (VIP), a Washington, D.C.-based business, to hire and train canvassers to go door to door. Registrars say the applicants are predominantly African-American, in some parishes over 95 percent.

There are a couple of reasons why, despite my cautions, you might want to put some stock in this report. First, Maginnis is probably the most astute observer of Louisiana politics there is. And, secondly, elections officials, not just the people organizing the registration drive, are talking up its significance.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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