Legislative Session

Mar 12, 2014 11:28 AM by Steven Albritton & Katie de la Rosa

"Independent" Political Party On The Rise In Lafayette, Bill Pushes For Identification

Two bills to be introduced in the Louisiana Legislature this session seek to designate political candidates and voters with no party affiliation as independents.

House Bill 193, authored by independent Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard of Thibodaux, would require people not associated with any party to be listed as independents in voter-registration records, a notice of candidacy and a ballot. Similarly, Senate Bill 60, a product of Democratic Sen. Rick Gallot from Ruston, would change the designation of candidates who do not belong to recognized parties on election ballots.

If passed, these bills would affect more than 28 percent of voters in Lafayette Parish, where they are currently referred to as "Others."

As of March 1, 40,315 of the parish's 145,990 voters were registered as Others. The potential future independent party indeed comprises a considerable portion of the local electorate, but the two main parties still outnumber it by almost 15,000 and 11,000 people. The Democratic Party has the most Lafayette Parish voters at 54,571, barely edging the Republican Party, which boasts 51,104.

Although there are fewer "Others" than Democrats and Republicans in the parish, one statistic suggests that might not always be the case.

Between 2000 and 2014, the Others saw the highest percentage increase in registered voters among the three parties in Lafayette Parish. There was a 62.87 percent hike in the 14-year period, a time when Democrats suffered a -9.81 percent decrease. Since the new millennium, nearly 26,000 voters have become Others, while the Republican Party expanded by almost 18,000. During that same time, Democrats lost 5,937 voters.

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