Louisiana elections should be decided by Louisianans, not out-of-state students

Edwin Wang and Michael Naish

Coinciding with historic statewide voter participation, College Democrats empowered Tulane’s precinct’s 118% spike in turnout. Greater civic engagement promotes better local collaboration, but out-of-state students must evaluate their long-term Louisiana residency before participating in elections that directly impact permanent residents.

Students’ newfound proactivity is positive but demands an acute awareness of Tulane’s status as a private institution. Out-of-state students, especially the 80% planning to leave New Orleans, should scrutinize their personal stake in state elections before imparting judgements on New Orleans’ taxpayers.

In local elections and referendums, Tulane’s votes can make significant waves.

For example, District 98’s race, Tulane’s state representative district, was decided by roughly 2500 votes. Similar measures on state referendums or proposed millage renovation also provide citizens localized outlets to reform New Orleans’ politics, initiatives out-of-state voters only marginally experience.

Eighty percent of Tulanians hail from out-of-state, enhancing Tulane’s isolation from New Orleans, which is sometimes referred to as the “Uptown bubble.”  Even voters who are passionate about infrastructure problems like fixing roads and building hospitals are too disconnected from the city to be making these decisions.

Tulane’s precinct also decided ballot measures like Amendment 1, which would have extended property tax cuts on commodities destined for vulnerable coastal lands. Tulane’s opposition to this question indicates millennials successfully projected justified concerns over climate change’s local and international impact.

Regardless of students’ opinions, Amendment 1 would have regulated Louisiana’s energy industry, which critically serves as one of the U.S.’ top five-largest producers of natural gas and employs 260,000 workers. Louisiana’s children and workers ultimately bear the brunt of the consequences of these elections and deserve an uninfluenced discussion to shape Louisiana’s future.

Just as a Texas student studying in New York City should not vote on distant communal referenda like local preschool education, out-of-state Tulane students should not be influencing Louisiana’s critical referenda simply to make political statements. 

That is not to say every Tulanian should refrain from voting in Louisiana since citizens do have a historic opportunity to make their mark by turning out in 2020. But out-of-state students should request absentee ballots from their home state and impact state and local elections where they have tangible concerns.

Rather than promoting turnout amongst students with nominal, temporary interests, political action organizations like College Democrats ought to prioritize civic engagement and turnout of disenfranchised citizens.


The priority of voter mobilization by campaign organizations must be aimed at permanent residents instead of temporary citizens who value state elections as opportunities to voice impassioned opinions.

Student voters must seriously ask themselves whether they feel comfortable voting on local issues that transcend party lines. While arguments for “performing your civic duty as an informed citizen” are commendable, if New Orleans is to define its own future, its elections must be decided by local citizens. 

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