Low voter turnout expected in Tuesday’s primary despite key local races | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Low voter turnout expected in Tuesday’s primary despite key local races

Tom Davidson
1172368_web1_VoteMachine-102016

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 .

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.