Capitol Access

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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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The November midterm election has come and gone, but Louisiana voters still have one more decision to make. The Secretary of State’s race won’t be decided until December 8th. 

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Louisiana voters weighed in on Congressional representation, candidates for Secretary of State, and six constitutional amendments.

Jessica Rosgaard

It’s election day across the country, and if you weren’t one of the nearly 312-thousand Louisianans who voted early, today is your last chance to make your voice heard in the 2018 midterms.

Candidates For Secretary Of State Participate In LSU Forum

Oct 31, 2018
Abbie Shull/LSU Manship School News Service

Five of the six candidates for Louisiana Secretary of State found common ground in a forum Monday evening as they each tried to shake interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s perceived confidence in his incumbency.

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Louisiana is the only state where a person can be sentenced to life in prison - without the possibility of parole - on a 10-2 verdict. And while some say the state’s non-unanimous jury system results in faster justice for victims, others say the rule is a threat to constitutional rights, and has sent innocent people to prison.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Once considered a long shot, the bill to approve a ballot initiative that could overturn Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury rule passed the legislature in May. The proposal needs a simple majority of voters to become law - but proponents of the measure face two challenges: educating voters, and breaching a partisan political divide.

Sarah Gamard/LSU Manship School News Service

The Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers works to protect rights guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions in criminal cases. When the organization decided to challenge Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury system, they turned to New Orleans Senator J.P. Morrell to sponsor the bill through the legislative process.

The Freedmen's Bureau, by Alfred R. Waud for Harper's Weekly, July 25, 1868 / Library of Congress/Public Domain

Louisiana currently allows a non-unanimous jury decision for felony convictions. That law is up for reconsideration this election day with a ballot initiative, which, if it passes, would change the state constitution to require unanimous juries.

But how did we get here? How did Louisiana become one of only two states in the nation that allows convictions by non-unanimous juries?

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced, "the state of Louisiana no longer holds the title of incarceration capital of the nation."

Louisiana could soon be collecting sales tax from online retailers, thanks to a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court.