Voters to decide term limits Saturday

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont Jr. predicted only 35 to 40 percent of Iberville voters would go to the polls Saturday to decide the repeal of term limits for certain parish officials.

Polling places parish wide will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the single-issue election – the repeal of three-term limits on the Iberville parish president and the Parish Council members.

Dupont said he was predicting the fairly low turnout despite the record number of early voters, the advertising on both sides of the issue and a forecast for good weather Saturday.

“I don't think people are worried about this,” the clerk said.

Registrar of Voters Melissa S. Bourgoyne said a total of 2,089 of the parish's 21,000 registered voters cast early ballots at her office over the eight-day early voting period that ended last Saturday.

She said the early vote total set a new record for Iberville Parish – the previous high was 2,010 in the 2008 presidential election. The early vote also included the parish's largest one-day early vote total – 580 voters on the first day of the period, compared to the previous record of around 300, the registrar said.

“No matter which way it goes, we love to see a good turnout,” Bourgoyne said, adding that she and her staff learned new ways to speed up the early voting process. “...I'm not used to having my voters wait, but everybody has been understanding.”

Iberville also led the state in early voting for this election, she said.

“Our turnout was the highest [in the state] for anybody that was having an election on March 27,” Bourgoyne said.

The Tea Party of Louisiana, which has been running ads against the term limits repeal, had announced a Courthouse rally for 10 a.m. Saturday coinciding with the final day of early voting. No rally materialized, but 298 voters cast early ballots during the day.

“I'm disappointed that hate Tea Party would come down here and express their wishes to the people of Iberville Parish,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said. “I think we're smart enough, educated enough and informed enough [to decide for ourselves].”

Ourso said supporters of the repeal worked a telephone bank from his home office to get out the early vote, and would be working again on Election Day.

The parish president, who has said he wants to run for one more term in the office, is serving his third full term and would be term-limited out if the proposition does not pass.

Voters approve the term limits as a separate proposition at the same time they passed the Home Rule Charter form of government in January 1997.

Three of five members of the Parish Council serving their third terms are campaigning against the term limit repeal. Parish Councilman Howard Oubre Jr. of Plaquemine said he and councilmen Salaris Butler of Seymourville and Leonard “Buck” Jackson of St. Gabriel are working against the repeal