Representation delayed is representation denied.

As I have written about before, the three-stage electoral system which Louisiana now uses for its Congressional elections was adopted to solve a specific problem. Under the two-stage system that Louisiana previously used (and still uses for state and local elections), Louisiana's Congressmen were sometimes not elected until December, a month after the Congressmen from the other states. This one-month delay put Louisiana's Congressmen at a disadvantage in committee assignments and in other matters.

It is ironic, then, that the new three-stage electoral system has, in its first usage, caused a one-month delay in the seating of our new Congressmen, which would not have occurred had we been using the old two-stage electoral system. If we had used our old system for these special elections, the 6th District and 1st District seats would already be filled. Instead, two-sevenths of the voters in Louisiana will continue to go unrepresented in the U.S. House of Representatives until after the third round of voting on May 3.

There is no reason that this had to happen. There is no requirement that states use the same electoral system for special Congressional elections that they use for regular Congressional elections. California uses an electoral system for its special Congressional elections that is very different from the one used for that state's regular Congressional elections. This allows them to fill their vacant Congressional seats with a minimum of delay.

The only reason for using the same electoral system for special Congressional elections that is used for regular Congressional elections is the concern that voters might become confused if they are required to switch back-and-forth between the different systems. That does not apply in Louisiana, though, since voters already have to deal with two distinct electoral systems (i.e., one for Congressional elections and another for state and local elections).

The Louisiana Legislature should have foreseen the serious problem that this new three-stage system would create when used in special Congressional elections. Even if none of the other electoral reforms that I have suggested is adopted, the state legislators should amend our election laws to allow future special Congressional elections to be conducted under Louisiana's traditional two-stage electoral system, so that future Congressional vacancies can be filled as quickly as possible.

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