Automatic Voter Registration In Louisiana Is An Insane Idea, And Julie Stokes Is For It

We know this because Stokes said so in a Times-Picayune article which ran Wednesday

Only one secretary of state candidate, Stokes, said she would want to push voter registration further. She would consider automatic voter registration in some circumstances, where people would have to opt out of registering, instead of opting in.

That paragraph was toward the bottom of the article, in a classic case of burying the lede. Even the Democrat in the race with a chance to win, Renee Free, didn’t push automatic voter registration.

There’s a reason Free didn’t go there. That being the fact Chris Tyson, who ran for Secretary of State against Tom Schedler back in 2015 and got annihilated by a 62-38 margin, pushed it. Voters were horrified.

As they should be. In Louisiana, we have a long and ugly history of voter fraud. And the easiest, most obvious way to initiate voter fraud is by having people vote in place of the names on the voter rolls who aren’t voting.

As in, dead people, or folks who have moved away, or who are registered but don’t vote.

The fewer voter registrations for people who have no intention of voting, the better the integrity of the election. This is a bedrock conservative principle where voting rights are concerned – it’s also a bedrock good-government principle. Automatic voter registration is a policy for states like New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts and Vermont, where Democrat machine politics holds sway. Is that what we want to return to in Louisiana?

And it’s far more important to have accurate, fraud-free elections than it is to have high voter registration or even high turnout. It really doesn’t matter if 20 percent, or 40 percent, or 60 percent of the voters vote in an election; what matters is the people voting are who they say they are, and that they show up informed and engaged in what they’re voting on.

Julie Stokes calls herself a conservative and it’s pretty clear she gets none of this. That’s a problem. It means Julie Stokes not making the runoff the single most important consideration Louisiana’s Republican voters need to keep in mind on Nov. 6, and we’ve got to vote accordingly.

There are a couple of non-public polls floating out there of recent vintage in the Secretary of State’s race, and both of them say Free and Kyle Ardoin are first and second, but that Stokes is only about seven or eight points behind Ardoin. The rest of the candidates are considerably behind.

Stokes has more money on TV than any of the other candidates. Her ad is well-produced, though it’s interesting that she doesn’t actually have a speaking part in it – and her pitch, namely that she’s a breast cancer survivor and a CPA, has nothing whatsoever to do with the job she’s running for.

And Stokes has campaign donations coming in from allies of John Bel Edwards right now. Heavy, by the standards of a down-ballot statewide race. Edwards is doing everything he can to get a Stokes-Free runoff, because he wins either way. Based on the state’s history with Democrats running our elections, having one of Edwards’ friends as Secretary of State simply cannot happen.

And what this means is if you’re a Republican voter, if you’re not backing Ardoin you’re effectively backing Stokes. You’re either voting to keep her out of the runoff or you aren’t.

I wish it was different. I wish we had party primaries, because I’m pretty sure Julie Stokes wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a closed Republican primary. If we’d had a party primary I’d probably be for Rick Edmonds or Heather Cloud, both of whom I really like and want to see a great political future for (though Edmonds’ campaign has been a destructive mess of late, which is really unfortunate).

But in Louisiana, your first consideration in any election has to be how to prevent the worst-case scenario from unfolding, and given our awful jungle primary system that’s far more difficult than it should be. Right now the worst-case scenario is a Stokes-Free runoff, and it’s a strong possibility that’s precisely what we’re going to get.

So if you want to not waste your vote, you’re going to have to pull the lever for Ardoin. He might not have the conservative bona fides of an Edmonds or A.G. Crowe, but he’s been on our side since he got the job. And more, he’s the one who can win – and if he does, he’ll owe conservatives for the victory.

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