Reporters and public officials do not always see eye to eye, but many seem to agree that one trend in the electoral cycle may have achieved something few believed would happen.
Voter apathy is on the decline. It may be easy to disagree with that observation, but one recent trend seems to support it, at least partially.
It involves early voting, which has become a more common part of the electoral process in recent years.
The last two early voting cycles have brought record turnout, and the totals have been on a steady rise over the past several years.
In Pointe Coupee Parish, the records have been broken three times of the last four years. The count for the Oct. 12 primary election shattered the record set in the 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston and West Baton Rouge parishes have also seen strong turnouts during the past few cycles.
The cycle that ended Sunday drew nearly 500,000 voters statewide – not bad at all for a small ballot
High-profile races and the gubernatorial primary brought people to the polls for the Oct. 12 election, but the runoff has been the biggest surprise.
The polarizing race between Gov. John Bel Edwards and Eddie Rispone may have something to do with it.
Much of Rispone’s success in the primary was likely from the strong turnout from early voting, particularly among rural white male voters, according to political analyst Pearson Cross.
It also made a big difference in the primary, due largely to the razor-thin margin between Edwards and Rispone.
The early voting alone probably brought in enough votes to alter the scant margin between them.
Think about it: Gov. Edwards was short 4 percentage points of a win in the primary, and the record turnouts in the early voting played at least a small role in the outcome.
Early voting could play a much bigger role in the runoff, based on the polls in which the margin is almost too close to determine a decisive winner.
Turnout will make all the difference in this race.
Churches in the urban areas have made a strong push to get its congregants to the polls, which would most likely bode more favorably for Edwards.
As for Rispone, he has another card up his sleeves – the Trump card. Even if early voting tilts in favor of Edwards, President Trump has been able to energize supporters to cast votes in favor of Rispone.
Trump is set to appear in Bossier City tonight, which could motivate otherwise apathetic voters to the polls.
In the end, turnout will likely be the catalyst over who wins. Much of that turnout will stem from the early voting process, which continues to grow in popularity.
It’s an encouraging sign to see an increase in voter participation, a notion that seemed farfetched just a few years ago.
The early voting process continues to have a greater effect. The increase over the past several years indicate it won’t stop, either.