Don’t make another mistake, Snoop Dogg, read the ballot

Snoop Dogg PA image

Intense get-out-the-vote momentum is growing for November third, the day we Americans will cast our votes and “claim” who we want to serve as our 46th president. For first time voters like rapper Snoop Dogg who mistakenly believed he was not eligible to vote, the day has more significance than many media are reporting since many states have multiple races on their ballots. In Louisiana, each vote will critically impact city councils, judgeships, and the state constitution. First time voters will make a difference. But, do they understand that? And will they read the ballot?

Here’s a little civic crash course.

We, the American people, won’t directly make the decision. We will present the popular vote. The decision still falls in the hands of electors who vote in December as part of the 2020 Electoral College. Earlier this year, you and I voted for Republican and Democrat leaders in our state committees and state party leadership who then selected a slate of candidates to be become electors. When we, the public, vote in November, we cue these electors on who to vote for in December. In Louisiana, we have eight electors who promise to vote according to the majority, or popular, vote but the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require it (yet). 

Now, in Louisiana, 58% of Louisiana voters voted Republican in 2016 although only 33% are registered Republican, therefore it is highly probable that the majority of next month’s votes will go Republican, again. As a “winner-take-all” state, the winner of Louisiana’s majority, or popular, vote will get the eight electoral college votes in December which will then be added to the votes needed to win the presidency. At that rate of 58%, the Republican would win the state of Louisiana. (Now, sure, an elector can get to their ballot in December and attempt to vote against the majority to shift the vote but the only way it would be effective is for a complete 8-vote turnover otherwise the elector is committing political suicide and welcoming enormous scrutiny.)

Can there be a true shift for Louisiana’s election?

Well, yes. The true shift for Louisiana is exactly what we’ve all been told: EVERY VOTE COUNTS. The majority vote, the vote of the people, each and every vote can shift the presidential outcome here. Yes. Every vote “counts”—a literal one, two, three, four, count not theoretically count— and thereby the eight Electoral Count votes belong to the people. If that 58% majority moves to another party, in this state, the electors have a commitment to cast their vote with the winning party. This alone may be a core reason why there have been so many attempts to stop people from registering online, casting their ballot by mail, or safely entering the voting precincts. 

Delta Sigma Theta voter info

Also, since Louisiana elections are plurality vote elections where majority rules (51% or more), then, every vote of ours will select mayors, city council leaders, district attorneys, and judges in November. Each and every vote will also impact the changes to seven state Constitutional amendments and two millage renewals. Organizations like the Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and PAR Louisiana have released voter info and are hosting forums to help voters understand amendments.

Here’s an experiment: Pick a number between 1 and 7

As an experiment, members of our team picked a number between one and seven for a corresponding Constitutional amendment. We pulled the sample ballot along with the Secretary of State’s explanation. We read each amendment aloud, researched any term that was unclear, and decided how each of our households would be impacted.

The “abortion rights” amendment and the amendment to change income requirements for homestead exemption were easy decisions. The other amendments required more research. Frustration with the language on the ballot increased. “It seems deceitful,” one argued. They researched more and increasingly became frustrated with verbiage and the process of digging and clarifying the law/policy in order to decide on a yes or no vote. Nonetheless, the point had been made: How we vote is critical–immediately– and it is far more than just a vote for any old candidate. 

If consistent voters felt this frustrated and defensive on parts of the amendments, what would first time voters feel? Do they even know these amendments are on the ballot? Where are the commercials about these?  Who’ll read all this before they vote? What if they decide to skip the amendments and just cast their one vote for the president?

If they do, majority will still win. And that majority may not think in our best interest. That majority may not be an ally.

Truth is, voters have to get to the polls, allies have to get in the booth and choose to vote for OR against the clear and present dangers that we face. They and we have to vote for the absolute benefit of us now and for generations to come. The impact of every vote this election is long term and intense. What we choose is frightfully a matter of life or death: biologically and financially.

Louisiana voters, go study your ballot.

By Candace J. Semien

Jozef Syndicate reporter

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