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Louisiana Bill, Letting Independent Candidates use “Independent” on Ballot, Advances

On March 19, the Louisiana House & Government Affairs Committee passed HB 193. It lets independent candidates use the ballot label “independent” instead of “no party.” Thanks to Jim Riley for this news.

A somewhat similar bill that failed in a Senate Committee a few days ago also included a provision, permitting the creation of a party named the “Independent Party.” That latter part of the bill is probably what caused it to fail. HB 193 retains the ban on any party being called “Independent Party”, so it seems somewhat likely that HB 193 will pass the Senate Committee, if it passes the House.

One Response

  1. Jim Riley

    I had a chance to watch both committee hearings.

    In 2011, a provision was added to an omnibus election bill that would have permitted a candidate who was registered with No Party, to appear on the ballot as “Independent” or “(I)”. It appears the usual practice in Louisiana is to use “(D)”, “(R)”, “(G)”, “(L)”, “(O)”, and “(N)” or “(NP)” for Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Other, and No Party. I don’t know what is (was) used for the Reform Party which is still a qualified party in Louisiana.

    Governor Jindal vetoed the bill, stating that provision in the bill conflicted with with another law that prohibited recognition of an “Independent Party”.

    SB 60 would have permitted a candidate who was registered as “No Party” to run as an “Independent” or “(I)” rather than “(N)” or “(NP)”. The bill would also have eliminated the prohibition on an Independent Party.

    Voter registration forms permit a voter to select one of the five recognized parties; “No Party”; or “Other _________” party where they write-in their party affiliation.

    About 660,000 voters are “No Party”, but there are around 48,000 who are “Other: Independent”, and perhaps 10,000 more with variant spellings.

    So under the senate bill, “No Party” voters would run as “Independent” while “Other: Independent” would run as “Other”, unless an “Independent Party” gained recognition – quite possible since it only requires 1000 registrants, a fee, and some officers.

    It is not clear that the senate bill is dead. One committee member was absent, and the article you linked to had a picture showing the sponsor and the SOS official conferring with a caption indicating that they were discussing ways to resurrect the bill.

    SB 60 was sponsored on behalf of an individual, while HB 193 was sponsored by an Independent representative, who is apparently well liked. Some of the success of the bill may be due to deference to him. In addition, a committee amendment was quickly added to change the effective date from August to January 2015.

    HB 133 would change the voter registration forms to indicate “Independent” rather than “No Party”, which would also be used on ballots. It appears that “Other: Independent” voters would continue to be “Other” candidates.

    The fundamental problem is that they are not recognizing that they have created two classes of voters, who may or may not be the same.

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