Mar 22, 2024 - Politics

Louisiana could reshape state Democratic party in Saturday's election

Illustration of a donkey split in half.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

While casting effectively inconsequential votes in Louisiana's presidential primary this weekend, voters will also get a say in who's running the state's Democratic and Republican parties.

The big picture: Many Louisiana Democrats have blamed their party leadership for failing to at least force now-Gov. Jeff Landry into a runoff for his gubernatorial seat in last fall's elections.

  • And now, there's a push to oust Louisiana Democratic Chair Katie Bernhardt with a coalition of 106 candidates "committed to reforming, rebuilding and rebooting" the state party.

State of play: Saturday's election is a closed primary, which means that only registered Republicans or Democrats can vote for candidates within their respective parties.

  • Voters will select committee members to fill out their respective State Central Committees and their Parish Executive Committees.
  • The Republican and Democrat State Central Committees manage their parties at a state level.
  • And the Republican and Democrat Parish Executive Committees are parish-focused and help find future leaders from the grassroots level.

By the numbers: Early voting stats do indicate more interest in this election than 2016's primary.

  • Back then, 3.4% of voters cast early ballots.
  • This year, 5.6% of voters have done so.

Worth noting: Early voting numbers were higher in 2020 when some stay-at-home mandates were still in effect.

If you vote: Because of the hyper-local nature of these elections, it's hard to broadly say exactly what you'll see at the polls.

  • That's why it's going to be helpful to look up your individual sample ballot. The secretary of state's website makes this pretty easy.
  • Just head to the voter login, then input your information. Click "submit," then navigate to "My Sample Ballot."

The bottom line: This is one of those local elections that shows just how much impact a few voters can have.

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