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Closed Primaries Suppress Voter Turnout in La.

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Stay with me here while we check in with Louisiana and NPR's Greg Allen, who's on the line from a polling station in New Orleans.

Greg, tell us about the level of voter interest in these primaries today. You've got both Republicans and Democrats voting, correct?

GREG ALLEN: That's right, Andrea. But you know, these are closed primaries. So if you're an independent you're not able to vote in Louisiana. And in recent years those numbers have been climbing. Something like 22 percent of the voters in the state are independent.

So from the polling place I've been at today, you've got people walking in and ready to vote and being disgruntled when told they can't vote. So that's been something that's pushing down voter turnout as well.

SEABROOK: So have you seen a lot of candidates coming through the state there, Greg?

ALLEN: Well, we had, you know, candidates coming in - most recently on Thursday we had Barack Obama. And that's really been about it.

You know, you've got to think about here it's all been about Mardi Gras for the last 12 days until - Super Tuesday elsewhere was Fat Tuesday here. And people really weren't thinking about the election until after that was over.

We had Barack Obama come in with a big crowd on Thursday, and then former President Bill Clinton, of course, came in campaigning for his wife, did a five stop - five city stop here on Friday. But that's about it in terms of pre-primary campaigning. And people are just starting to realize it's a primary, and suddenly it's on them and they've got to decide whether they're going to vote or note.

SEABROOK: Hmm. NPR's Greg Allen in New Orleans. Thanks very much, Greg.

ALLEN: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.
As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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