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Low turnout expected in Tuesday's primary

| Monday, May 20, 2013, 8:03 a.m.

About 8,500,000 residents in the commonwealth are registered to vote, yet only a fraction of them are expected to turn out to cast their ballots in Tuesday's primary election, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

“It's traditionally a lower turnout,” Westmoreland County Election Bureau Director James Montini said of the primary election. “The primary held right after a presidential race for some reason is usually always the lowest in numbers.”

Montini said that only about a quarter of registered voters will hit the polls on Tuesday.

“I expect low 20s, 25 percent at the very highest,” Montini said of the turnout percentage. “That will be about all we see.”

Larry Blosser, director of the Fayette County Election Bureau, agreed that the turnout likely will not be a record high.

“I think that it's going to be on the lower side,” Blosser said, adding that the turnout for a primary race is sometimes dependent on the races and any issues at stake. “You'll have certain people coming out to support their candidates or support a certain candidate's platform.”

Turnout is also dependent upon the interest in the race, he said.

“We have a few highly contested races this primary, especially for the two open judge seats,” Blosser said. “The race for magistrate will also bring in some interest.”

Neither county reported a very high increase in new voter registration or in voters seeking to change their party affiliation.

“Actually it's been pretty quiet,” Montini said.

Even though the law has not yet been passed that requires all voters to provide photo identification, the state is still requiring election workers to ask.

”We are still required to ask if the voter has ID,” Blosser said. “The state requires that we still at least ask that. If you don't have photo ID, then the poll workers will ask if you want a handout that explains how to go about getting a photo ID. You aren't required to take the handout, but we are required to ask if they want one if they do not have a photo ID. The handout explains how they go about getting one if they need it; so if the law passes, then they can't say they didn't know.”

Although there is always a push to get voters to cast their ballots, weather, work and schedule demands remain big factors in getting people out to vote.

“You always want to encourage people to go out and vote, but there are always reasons why many can't and don't,” Montini said.

The voting site for Dunbar Borough has changed from the fire station to the fire hall next door.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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