Off Year Election: Don’t Forget to Vote

[Statements, opinion, and views expressed in this column are those of the author named and are not necessarily those of the and Thought Process Enterprises team.]

The day of the May primary elections, I wrote a column on why voting in local elections is important. The same principals hold true for today’s general election.

It’s an off-year election. There are no state or Federal positions for us Pennsylvanians to vote for. While it may make today’s election less exciting, it doesn’t make it less important locally.

There are several contested local positions such as county commissioners, judges, and borough council. All of these offices will directly affect our local economy and community development. The Ellwood City council is in the process of a revitalization effort and which three of the five candidates win will affect the course of that revitalization. As citizens in a democracy, we have the power to chose who we feel will best further our community in borough and county positions.

However, the reality is that today will have an extremely low voter turn-out.

According to the PA Department of State, Lawrence County has 53,764 registered voters out of an adult population of 70572 (2014 census estimate), which is 76.2% of the eligible voting population.

According to the Lawrence County website, in the May primary election, 14,854 ballots were cast in Lawrence County with a voter turnout of 30.67%. Given that several elections (such as school board) are no longer contested, voter turnout today will probably be lower.

In the November 2013 election, only 11,952 ballots were cast- 19.93% of the population. In 2011, 29.23% voted.

By comparison, the general election of 2012 (which was the last presidential election) had a 64.04% voter turnout. 2014 was unavailable.  The general election of 2012, a gubernatorial election, had a 45.3%.

The unfortunate news is that all of these numbers are low for a democratic nation. In France, close to 80% of the eligible population typically votes in presidential elections, and the president isn’t even as significant as ours since they have a prime minister as well. Germany has a 70-80 voting percentage in parliamentary elections, although that election is more significant than our Congressional elections since the majority party appoints the chancellor.

The question today is: do you want the people sitting on council- who choose how your local tax dollars are spent, hire your police officers, and handle your roads and parks- to represent less than 20% of the adult Ellwood population?

Candidate lists and candidate summaries for council can be found here and here.