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Allegheny County election director predicts light turnout at polls

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 4:46 a.m.
 

Allegheny County elections director Mark Wolosik projected a 40 percent turnout by Pittsburgh Democrats voting for mayor today.

Countywide, Wolosik projected 35 percent of 530,197 registered Democrats and 25 percent of 238,368 registered Republicans would turn out before polls close at 8 p.m.

Smaller numbers are expected in Westmoreland County, even with three candidates cross-filing for a seat on its Common Pleas Court.

Elections director Jim Montini expects 20-25 percent of Westmoreland's 122,303 Democrats and 90,833 Republicans.

“There's just a lack of competitive races and a lack of primary challenges,” said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College.

Locally, no one filed for council in North Irwin nor for the board of commissioners in South Versailles Township.

In many precincts Republicans must write in nominees, as well as some Democrats in areas where not enough candidates filed.

Madonna saw a trend that Wolosik detailed in Allegheny County, where 20.7 percent of GOP and 23.6 percent of Democratic voters turned out for the 2011 primary, then only 27 percent of all voters came out for the Rich Fitzgerald-D. Raja contest that fall for executive.

In 2009 only 18.9 percent of Republicans and 24.5 percent of Democrats voted in the spring and only 24 percent of all voters cast fall ballots.

Last year's presidential vote brought a 67.8 percent turnout in Allegheny County, but the last primary to draw anywhere near that was in 1989, when Sophie Masloff sought a full term as Pittsburgh mayor.

Wolosik said 57.2 percent of Democrats turned out that year. There was no GOP challenger for Masloff, but 47.4 percent of Republicans voted that spring. Total fall turnout was only 43.9 percent.

All Allegheny County offices are closed except for those dealing with the election.

All Westmoreland County offices are open as usual today.

Rich Chodolofsky of the Tribune-Review contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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