Election 2012
6:00 am
Thu November 8, 2012

New Orleans Voters Still Aren't Finished With Elections

Political science expert outlines undecided contests.

As the nation returns to a post-election landscape, New Orleans voters are still being courted in local contests. Two City Council races are still not decided.

There will be runoffs in New Orleans City Council districts B and E, involving residents in Uptown and in the Ninth Ward and New Orleans East. University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak says the biggest challenge facing the four candidates will be keeping voters engaged in the process.

“That’s the key for these candidates: they’re going to have to continue to let people know that there’s an election," Chervenak said. "Most people are just exhausted at this point and want to put all this behind them, but these candidates are going to have to keep their foot on the gas and let voters know, ‘Hey, we need you to show up for the runoff.’"

Chervenak says they won’t want to repeat the fate of former Congressman Bill Jefferson, who survived a primary held in conjunction with the 2008 presidential contest. But he lost to Republican Joseph Cao in a runoff that drew few voters back to the polls.

And the proposal to extend the Crescent City Connection tolls for 20 years is now winning — but by only 8 votes of 310,000 that were cast.

“The vote on the tolls was very surprising. In no way did I believe that the results would be as close as they are," Chervenak said. "I figured that people were very skeptical about renewing the tolls and that it would be defeated easily. But I was incorrect.”

A review of the votes on the toll extension is expected this weekend. The council runoff races are scheduled for December 8.

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