Even though qualifying just wrapped up last week and the primary elections will not be held for another three months, 54 percent of the races originally scheduled for the October ballot have already been settled.

No, this isn’t an electoral riddle.

There are 41 newly elected politicians in Louisiana because no one ran against them, and another 16 races have been cancelled because no one qualified for the government jobs.

These anomalies are part of the results of the three-day qualifying period that concluded Friday afternoon. That’s when candidates across Louisiana were invited to sign up for 105 local, regional and statewide elections with their clerks of court and the secretary of state.

While multi-candidate races are what voters are used to seeing and participating in, the opposite — single-candidate and no-candidate — happens quite frequently. In fact, it appears to be on the uptick in Louisiana.

“It’s my perception that this is a trend and, in my opinion, it’s starting to get some legs, so to speak,” said Secretary of State Tom Schedler. “It should be concerning to us all, that people are just kind of checking out. They’re getting sick of the politics. And it goes along with voter participation.”

That sentiment could be seen during qualifying in Schedler’s own office, where every state-level candidate except for three signed up on the first day, on Wednesday of last week. No one at all qualified on the second day of qualifying, on Thursday.

Most of the races this cycle that drew only a single candidates were on the local level, for positions like aldermen, selectmen, constables and justices of the peace.

They can be tough and demanding jobs that come with little to no fanfare, or what Schedler calls “true public service.”

“You just don’t have a lot of people playing in those races,” he added

But there were a few higher-profile voteless wins, beginning with District Judge-elect Suzanne de Mahy of New Iberia, who will be moving into the vacancy in the 16th Judicial District.

Additionally, Orleans Parish Civil Clerk Dale Atkins reached re-election this cycle in the same manner — by being the only name on the qualifying roster.

Others who were elected in Louisiana without opposition this cycle include:

— The mayors in the villages of Doyline, Elizabeth and Eros

— School board members in Livingston, St. John the Baptist and Tangipahoa parishes

— Parish councilmen in Iberia, Iberville and St. Mary parishes, and a police juror in Calcasieu Parish

As for those 16 elections that won’t be taking place as originally hoped because no one put their signature on paper, all hope is not lost.

Secretary of state spokesperson Meg Casper said in each instance a new vacancy will be triggered, the appropriating governing authority will make an interim appointment and a new election will eventually be called.

There are a number of constable and justice of the peace elections that were left vacant, and a single school board seat in Lafourche Parish that is in limbo as well. There were likewise several elections for mayor and chief of police in small villages that were ignored completely by candidates.

While this lack of participation is occurring during what election professionals call an “off year,” or a year with only a limited number of minor elections, Schedler and his staff have also seen it transpire during a recent active year.

Out of the 1,150 elections that were slated for the fall 2015 ballot, roughly 44 percent were decided due to single-candidate races by the time qualifying closed. It was a gubernatorial election year, so voters and candidates alike were certainly tuned in.

The situation was more telling in the Louisiana Legislature during that 2015 cycle. That was when nearly 50 percent of the House and Senate was already positioned to be sworn into office by the time the sign-up period ended.

 

Political history: The longevity of Louisiana governors

This past weekend marked what would have been the 120th birthday of late Gov. Sam Houston Jones on July 15 and the 89th birthday of late Gov. Dave Treen on July 16.

Besides being born a day apart on the calendar, the two men shared much in common.

Both were Methodist lawyers from south Louisiana known for their good government and reform campaigns. Jones took on the Brothers Long (Huey and Earl) while Treen railed against the fast and loose style of fellow former Gov. Edwin Edwards.

Jones, in particular, kept that same focus on ethics as an elected governor. He instituted competitive bidding on contracts, signed the first major public records act and helped develop the state archives.

He also shares the same middle name as another Louisiana governor — Jimmie Houston Davis.

 

They said it

“The cliff is coming but the sky ain’t falling.”

—Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, commenting on the state’s so-called fiscal cliff

“It's just like me — far from perfect — but I'm trying.”

—Chabert, on the new fiscal year budget

 

For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.