Voters who haven’t picked party will miss out on presidential primary

January 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish residents that failed to update their voter's registration card by choosing a political party in January won't be able to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary on Feb. 9. That primary decides the front-runners for president.

That's because only candidates registered as Democrats or Republicans will be allowed to vote in the election that will determine what candidates will be eligible to run for the presidential race to be held this November.

Brian Champagne, St. Charles Parish’s registrar of voters, plans to keep residents informed about the voting process and procedures.

"I'm trying to pass on information to avoid as much confusion as possible," he said. "On Feb. 9, only Democrats will be allowed to vote for Democrats and only Republicans will be allowed to vote for Republicans. All other parties will not be allowed to cast a vote for presidential preference, but they can still vote on parish property taxes, which will be on the Feb. 9 ballot."

And while it may be too late for those voters who haven't picked a party to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary, they will need to pick a party by Feb. 6 in order to vote for a congressional delegate.

"St. Charles Parish voters may not feel the impact of their failure to pick a political party now, but they will feel the impact when it's time to vote for a new congressional delegate to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal," Berry said. "There will be three races before the congressional candidates are picked, one with all Republican candidates, one with all Democratic candidates and one with the congressional front runner from each party, Democratic and Republican."

Berry says that's where the election may seem confusing to some voters. Democrats, and all other parties, will be allowed to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate, but  not a Republican congressional candidate. Either way, voters must register by Feb. 6 in order to vote for a congressional candidate.

"The Democrats decided to open the elections and accept all votes, but the Republicans opted to close the vote,” Berry said. “Now, only Republicans can vote for Republican candidates in the congressional delegates' race."

That means all voters, even those who don't choose a party, will be allowed to vote on the Democratic ticket and select a candidate to replace Jindal.

"This change is something recent by the legislature," Berry said. "When elections are held this way it's a lot more work for the election commissioners because they have to lock down every single vote," he said. "In other words, they have to block all the other names off of each individual's ballot that the person is ineligible to vote for based on their political party."

Berry says that the 1,967 residents that have not picked a political party as of Jan. 9 in St. Charles Parish should decide on a party by Feb. 6 if they want to vote for a Republican candidate to fill Jindal's congressional seat.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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