Hundreds of races, but light turnout expected for primary in Westmoreland
There are more than 850 races on Tuesday's primary ballots in Westmoreland County.
Political experts and elections officials, though, are concerned that ballot, with only a few contested races, will not draw large number of voters to the polls.
Westmoreland County Elections Bureau Director Jim Montini said he expects just 20 to 25 percent of the county's 122,303 registered Democrats and 90,833 registered Republicans to cast ballots on Tuesday.
“Generally speaking, we have our lowest turnout in the primary after the presidential election. People don't seem to be as interested,” Montini said.
Primary apathy is not limited to Westmoreland County.
G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said low voter turnout for off-year primaries has become a statewide trend.
“There's just a lack of competitive races and a lack of primary challenges,” Madonna said.
The lack of primary challenges could be related to a growing disdain for elected officials, he suggested.
“Being a local official is about as tough a job as you can find. In local government there are unprecedented challenges and little resources to solve them. There are a lot of folks who don't want to buy into it,” Madonna said.
During the spring 2009 primary, just months after a presidential election, Westmore-land County voter turnout reached just 25 percent.
In last fall's presidential election, more than 71 percent of the county's registered voters cast ballots.
This spring's primary features just two contested countywide races.
Voters will nominate candidates for one opening on Westmoreland County's Court of Common Pleas while Republicans will also select a prothonotary candidate on that ballot.
Attorneys William “Bill” McCabe, 57, of North Huntingdon; Meagan Bilik DeFazio, 38, of North Huntingdon; and Harry Smail Jr., 47, of Hempfield are vying for one nomination in the Democratic and Republican primaries for judge.
Mike Powers, 25, of New Stanton and Carl Stepanovich, 69, of Murrysville are seeking the Republican nomination to run against Democratic Prothonotary Christina O'Brien of Mt. Pleasant Township in the fall.
There are a handful of other contested primaries in local mayoral races, along with contested races for borough council seats, boards of township supervisors and in school districts.
The primary is so far off the radar that local parties are not even planning get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day.
Chairwoman Jill Cooper of the Westmoreland County Republican Committee said major efforts have fallen to the candidates to educate voters and to lure them to the polls.
“We'll have a few poll watchers, but we're not set up to call every household. We will go out in the fall but now each candidate will do their thing,” Cooper said.
Dante Bertani, chairman of the county's Democratic Committee, said that increased interest in the election will have to start with more interest in people serving in elected offices.
“A lack of involvement hurts the whole process. People are now focused on me, me, me instead of focusing on broad issues,” Bertani said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
- 2 accused of taking baby to New Kensington drug deal get probation
- Tanker crash closes lane of Turnpike in Penn Township
- Electricity deal eyed for Latrobe
- Bids expected for demolition of Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette
- Westmoreland County Prison visitation goes digital
- Ligonier planners recommend approval of restaurant proposal
- Hempfield votes to fill public works job with interim director Cisco
- ‘Murder on the Nile’ at Geyer this weekend
- New Year’s Eve sales set LCB record
- Veterans Court in session in Westmoreland for first time