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Mar 27, 2014 7:24 PM by Kari Beal

BIll would require 20% minimum voter turnout

A new bill could affect how tax laws are passed and when. In order for any tax to pass, Senate Bill 200 would require a voter turnout of at least 20 percent on Election Day. Proponents of the bill say it could save money and prevent laws that don't have public support from getting passed.

Voter turnout can be pretty low in certain months. Last October, the city of Youngsville voted on a 4 percent tax on hotel stays. The turnout was miniscule.

"6000 people were eligible to vote, and only 5 percent of people come out to vote," Registrar of Voters in Lafayette Parish Charlene Meaux said.

This is not a surprising statistic. During March 2012 elections, Lafayette, Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary Parish had voter turnouts less than 15 percent. Compare this to November 2012, when candidates were up for election, voter turnout in all the parishes was close to 70 percent.

Meaux explains there is thought that it is easier to get tax laws passed in low voter turnout months because there is less opposition.

"The thinking was when you put it by itself it will pass because those who want it will go out and vote," Meaux said.

If SB 200 passes, more tax propositions could be put in the November election because it would save money and could help get those needed votes. Each election in a parish cost $1,250.

"I prefer it with the bigger elections because I can't say I make it out to a lot of the smaller elections," said Convington resident Steven Hebert.

Although, the bill could save money, it is not good news for those who want a new tax.

"I think it will save a lot of money, but I don't think the issue that is on the ballot will pass if you have to get that 20 percent," Meaux said.

To view voter turnout by parish and statewide click here.

Want to see more stories from Kari? Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Kari_EBeal.


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