--Nov. 6, 2012 (Tuesday) -- Presidential election - First Primary for Congress and many state/local races.
--Dec. 8, 2012 - (Saturday)-- Run-off Second Primary date.
In Louisiana, elections are usually held on Saturday, except when there's a federal Tuesday election - like this year, 2012.
The Presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 is the election of the winning political party's slate of electors who will cast votes for President and Vice President in the Electoral College later. When voting, you will choose a President/Vice President ticket led by President Obama, Governor Romney or a third party Presidential candidate. The option of separately voting for the electors is not available.
The Congressional Primary election is on the same date. Various state and local elections will also be on the ballot along with these federal contests. The Congressional and state elections are held under the Open Primary System in Louisiana where political party doesn't matter for voting and for determining the primary winner. See below for more about the Open Primary System in Louisiana.
The Louisiana open primary system also means that party membership or designation does matter in most voting, including these Congressional elections. So all voters can vote no matter their party designation and all candidates who qualify for an election are voted on without regard of their political party designation or lack of one. Since parties don't matter for the electing process, two candidates from the same party could be in the run-off.
2. Open v Closed Primary Elections in LouisianaIn Louisiana, there is currently an open primary system for elections, so all candidates for an office run in the same primary election, all against each other. It doesn't matter whether a candidate is a Republican, a Democrat, a member of another party, or not of any party.
If a candidate gets a majority of the vote, i.e. 50% plus 1 vote, he or she wins the election in the first primary and no run-off general election is needed.
If no one gets a majority of the vote in any of these elections, the run-off will be held on Dec. 8, 2012 - a Saturday - between the top two vote-getters.
The Louisiana open primary system also means that party membership or designation does matter in most voting, including these Congressional elections.
So all voters can vote no matter their party designation and all candidates who qualify for an election are voted on without regard of their political party designation or lack of one. Since parties don't matter for the electing process, two candidates from the same party could be in the run-off.
It used to be called Absentee Voting when you had to have a reason like being absent from the area on election day. It's still helpful if you may be out of town on election day but you no longer need to certify your plans. Some decisive voters now routinely vote early.
The time period for Early Voting is from 14 days to 7 days before an election and includes two Saturdays. (There is no voting on Sundays.) Early Voting is held a just one or a very few locations - not your regular polling place. In New Orleans it's usually City Hall, the Algiers Courthouse, and a New Orleans East location. If you go to vote early, bring your Louisiana Driver's License, Louisiana Special ID or other official picture ID. If you have none, some proof of residency and an affidavit will be required.
You must have one of the 12 specified reasons to Vote by Mail in Louisiana. Reasons include situations involving military service, location, hospitalization, age and more. Note the requirements and the deadlines which can vary with the asserted reason.
4. Political Parties and Louisiana VotersPolitical Parties officially recognized by the State of Louisiana and therefore listed on the ballot with their candidates are:
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green and Reform.
When you register to vote, you can register with a party. It it's one of these official parties you are a registered as such. Your status is an unaffiliated voters if you don't designate a party or if you register with a non-recognized party.)
Party affiliation isn't as important to voting as it used to be in Louisiana due to the Open Primary System. In the former Closed Primary System, only registered Democrats (or other party) could vote in that party's primary election. The Democratic Primary or Second Primary was THE election in the old days. It was often the final election. Even if there was a General election with a Republican and maybe some third party or independent candidates, it generally didn't amount to much.
As Republicans became a political possibility in Louisiana (The change came after Governor Edwin Edwards won two Democratic elections and faced a competitive third campaign and real contest with a Republican, the future Governor David C. Treen.)
Today, party registration can matter in some voting such as some Presidential primaries and state party positions.
You can use the voting registration form to change your party designation to another party or to no party at any time However, for the change to be effective for an election, it must be done 30 days before the election.
5. 11 Presidential Candidates on the BallotYou might surprised to see 11 choices on the ballot for President and Vice President. Beyond Democrats Barack Obama/Joe Biden and Republicans Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan, there are third party tickets from the Libertarian and Green parties, which are officially recognized parties in Louisiana. The name of these parties will appear on Louisiana ballots by the candidate names. This year, there is no Reform Party or Green Party candidates on Louisiana's 2012 Presidential ballot even though those are also "official parties" in Louisiana.
However, there are President/Vice President tickets for the Constitution Party, the Justice Party, the We the People Party, and three Socialist parties (Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Equality and Socialist Workers. There are also Prohibition Party candidates. All of those candidates with non-recognized parties are listed as Other on the official Louisiana electoral ballot.
6. Congressional Elections and the Libertarian PushThe Libertarian Party is making a big push this year with a candidate for U.S. Representative in five of the six Louisiana Congressional Districts. (Only District 1 has no Libertarian candidate.)
Here are the candidates in the New Orleans area Congressional races:
The First Congressional District haS five candidates including two Republicans,incumbant Steve Scalise and Gary King, Democrat Vinny Mendoza and two no party candidates Turk Truknett and Arden Wells 2nd District candidates for Congress are Libertarian Caleb Trotter Republicans Dwyane Bailey and Josue Larose as well as Democrats Cedric Richmond and Gary Landrieu The Third District candidates are Republicans Jeff Landry, Charles Boustany, Jr., and Bryan Barrilleaux, as well as Democrat Ron Richard and Libertarian Jim Stark.
7. Constitutional Amendments, Tolls, Taxes and MoreIn Orleans Parish and other metro New Orleans parishes, the November ballot will include a vote on the proposed extension of the Crescent City Collection Bridge Tolls, which were suppose to automatically end when the bonds financing it's expansion ended. The proposition ask if the tolls should be retained for 20 years.
Voting will also take place on a proposal for separate elections for at large City Council seats, a Regional Business Park tax, the extension of a Levee District tax, and a few neighborhood security/crime district fee issues. Voters throughout the state of Louisiana will also vote for or against a collection of Louisiana State Constitution proposed Amendments.
Other judicial elections include two 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge positions, judges for Division B and Division H, as well as Section B Criminal District Court Judge There are also a couple of uncontested races.
In Jefferson Parish, ALL of the many judicial elections are uncontested, so voters don't get a choice.
Click here for a listing of state, multi-parish, and local parish races (be sure to check both tabs). You can then choose the races you are interested in and get a list of candidates in each. The League of Women Voters in New Orleans has a wealth of information about elections, candidates and more for state, federal, New Orleans and Jefferson Parish elections.