Low voter turnout expected in Tuesday’s primary despite key local races
Between 75% and 80% of the region’s registered voters aren’t expected to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s primary, according to elections officials.
The primary features county, municipal and school board races for Republican and Democratic party nominations to run in November’s general election.
Local taxes are traditionally one of the biggest issues that people complain about — and many races on Tuesday’s ballot will determine who sets those rates in communities across the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Yet so-called off-year elections, when no presidential, congressional or statewide candidates appear on the ballot, “garner the least amount of turnout,” according to David Voye, who heads the Allegheny County Elections Division.
“It’s normally pretty low in this type of election,” Voye said.
About 25% of Democratic voters and 20% of Republicans are expected to turn out to the polls Tuesday, Voye said. There are 952,000 registered voters in Allegheny County.
Westmoreland County Election Director Beth Lechman was slightly more optimistic, predicting that just more than 30% of voters would cast ballots. Westmoreland County has just under 236,000 registered voters.
“We have judges races, a Republican commissioners race, a sheriff’s race,” Lechman said. “We have a lot of school board races that are highly contested.”
A turnout of between 30% and 32% would be about average for a municipal primary, she said, and it’s something she lamented.
“I feel the municipal elections are just as important,” Lechman said. “These are normally the people who determine how your tax dollars are spent.”
Armstrong County Election Director Jennifer Bellas predicted turnout of about 26%. There are close to 41,400 registered voters in Armstrong County.
Special election Tuesday for 1 race
Voters in the some of the Alle-Kiski Valley — those in the state’s 41st Senatorial District — also get to vote in a special election to fill the seat that opened up when state Sen. Don White of Indiana resigned in February.
Democrat Susan Boser and Republican Joe Pittman are running to fill White’s seat.
All voters in the district — including independents who normally don’t get a vote in a primary election — can cast a ballot in that race.
In the Valley, the 41st Senatorial District includes: all of Armstrong County; the Butler County communities of Buffalo Township, Clinton Township, Jefferson Township, Saxonburg, and Winfield Township; and the Westmoreland County communities of Avonmore, Bell Township Murrysville, Oklahoma Borough, Upper Burrell and Washington Township.
(The entire district includes all of Indiana County, other parts of Butler County and Export in Westmoreland.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .