Hundreds of area voters switched political parties prior to deadline
By: RAYMOND PARTSCH III
Evangeline Parish is in the process of switching its political color from blue to red.
As by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, the total number of registered Repbulican voters increased by 409 in the past month. The total number of registered GOP voters in the parish now stands at 4,949.
“I am surprised by the number,” Registrar of Voters Lucas Buller said. “In almost my nine years of being here this is by far the most party changes I have witnessed.”
The parish is known historically as a “blue parish” or a parish that has more registered Democrats. Buller though says even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 3-1, the parish has been a “red parish” when it comes to larger elections.
“Although we have much more registered Democrats, for the state and federal election the outcome has been Republican victories,” Buller said.
A possible reason for the switching of parties could be the upcoming March 5th President Preference Primary, which is a closed primary. That means only registered Democrats can vote for the Democratic nominees and only registered Republicans can vote for Republicans.
“The voters I have talked to are saying that the Republican Party has a wider field to choose from and they just want to participate in the Republican primary,” Buller said.
Local residents also took advantage of changing political parties by not only appearing at the Registrar of Voters Office inside the Evangeline Parish Courthouse, but also by visiting the website geauxvote.com.
“We definitely had more online this cycle,” Buller said. “I think the appeal is that you can do it from the convenience of your home. That said, we still had a significant amount of people come in to the office to change parties. I had six in my office Tuesday by 10 a.m.”
With all the frenzied activity, does Buller expect the turnout to be higher than usual?
“It’s pretty obvious that the turn out will exceed the 2012 turnout,” Buller said. “There is so much excitement about it.”