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Monday, January 23, 2006
The Lousiana “Primary” to Stay Put
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:12 pm

Via the AP: Judge Nixes Move of La. Primary Date

An attempt to move the state’s open primary election for Congress back to October was rejected by a judge who said officials had attempted a “play on words” to get around federal law requiring the election in November.

Under the ruling Monday by U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, the state will continue to hold primary elections in November, and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, runoffs will be held in December.


In a change approved last year, the state Legislature attempted to shift the primary back to October, saying a candidate who got a majority of the vote at that time would not be formally declared the winner until November. But Polozola said that distinction would still violate the federal law.

“I think it would just merely be a play on words,” Polozola said.

First off, the Louisiana “primary” isn’t a primary. I know they call it that, but Louisiana has a two-round system to elect members of Congress with open, self-nominations for all comers to participate in the first round. Given that in the first round (what they call the “primary”) can have multiple Republicans, Democrats, etc. and that the second round can pit Dem v. Dem or Rep v. Rep, it makes absolutely no sense to call this process a “primary,” open or otherwise. It isn’t a nominating process, which is what a primary is by definition-it is a winnowing process that ultimately requires a majority winner.

Second, Polozola is correct-this is just word games. I can’t see this little play on words not contravening Foster v. Love, 522 U. S. 67 (1997)-the case wherein the Supreme Court ordered the change to the date of the first round.


  1. Glad to see you share my irritation with calling this a primary. We have the same misnomer in local politics in San Diego County, and many other municipal jurisdictions in California-and probably other states with officially nonpartisan races; in fact, how can you have a ‘primary’ if the election is ‘nonpartisan’?

    For all practical purposes, Louisiana elections are nonpartisan, too, in that party label is not a criterion in determining who advances to the ‘general’-as you note. And in another sense: the election can be over in the ‘primary’ if one candidate clears 50%. How can it be a ‘primary’ if it can also be a ‘general’?

    Comment by Matthew — Wednesday, January 25, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  2. […] s. Of course, party-linkages are especially weak in Louisiana, given its electoral system which is even more candidate-centric than the rest of the country. Katrina has taken an already evolving situ […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Political Effects of Katrina — Monday, January 30, 2006 @ 11:25 am

  3. […] a move could have some important effects on parties and politics in the state. Of course, as I have noted before, Louisiana doesn’t have a primary system, they have a two-round system to elect m […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Changes Coming to Louisiana Elections? — Wednesday, June 7, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  4. […] Of course, given’s LA’s “primary” system (not), this doesn’t mean that Jefferson won’t still be on the ballot as a Democrat, just that he is no longer the party’s favorite. Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | |Send TrackBack […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » LA Democratic Party Refuses to Endorse Jefferson — Saturday, October 14, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

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