Reforms could boost state voter turnout
On. Nov. 6, citizens across Pennsylvania will do something many of their fellow patriots across the nation have been doing for weeks.
They will go to their local polling places and cast their ballots.
Voters in the Keystone State will be selecting a governor, U.S. Senator, members of Congress, every member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and half of the state Senate.
But unless you are voting via absentee ballot, in Pennsylvania you have from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 6 to exercise your precious constitutional right.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons for the embarrassingly low numbers that have been recorded in recent non-presidential year elections.
Last spring’s primary again saw voters stay away in droves. In some counties, only 22 percent of eligible Democrats bothered to show up at the polls. On the GOP side, it was even worse, even though voters were selecting a candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. Only 21 percent of Republicans cast a vote.
It’s become the same, sad tune that seems to haunt every primary and off-year election. In other words, if we aren’t voting for president, a lot of citizens don’t bother to vote at all.
There are those who don’t necessarily believe that is a bad thing. They rightly revere voting as a privilege as well as a right guaranteed by the Constitution, and firmly believe it is not too much to ask for a wellinformed citizenry to take that duty seriously.
Unfortunately, the result is a miniscule turnout, with a tiny fraction of the electorate deciding who should represent us.
There are several ways to reinvigorate voters. In the primary, Pennsylvania should stop blocking those registered as Independent from taking part in the process.
For general elections, why doesn’t Pennsylvania allow its residents to join the more than seven million people across the country who have already voted?
It’s time for that to change. The state should join those states that offer extended voting, as well as the ability to vote online or by mail. At minimum, extend the voting hours.
Ironically, this midterm election is offering more sizzle than usual – but the heat is not being turned up by any Pennsylvania candidates.
The governor’s race between Wolf and Republican challenger former state Sen. Scott Wagner has been a sleeper. Wolf, comfortably ahead in both the polls and fundraising, has declined offers to debate, aside from the sham forum that was hosted by game show celebrity Alex Trebek.
Ken Krawchuk is the Libertarian candidate.
The only sign of life this campaign has offered was the bizarre threat by Wagner to stomp on Wolf’s face with golf spikes. Unfortunately, that tone has proven par for the course.
In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr., also comfortably ahead in the polls, probably proved why incumbents so often duck and hide. His campaign pushed a video accusing challenger Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of voting to eliminate health coverage for preexisting conditions, cutting off care for babies battling cancer. He apparently was unaware that Barletta’s toddler grandson is also battling the disease. He pulled the ad in Barlettta’s Allentown market.
Delco’s own Dale Kerns provides a Libertarian choice.
In races for the U.S. House, it appears Democrats are headed for easy wins in both Chester and Delaware counties, where Chrissy Houlahan looks primed to win the 6th District seat over Greg McCauley, and Mary Gay Scanlon holds a sizeable lead over Republican Pearl Kim in the 5th.
The biggest Republican name in this election is not on the ballot.
The mid-terms are widely being viewed as being a referendum on the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The president seems to have embraced the challenge, and is stoking his base with a nonstop series of rallies aimed at staving off what many are predicting will be a Blue Wave that will see the U.S. House fall to the Democrats, and perhaps the Senate as well.
But if you’ve made other plans on Nov. 6 and aren’t voting via absentee ballot, you’re out of luck.
Because Pennsylvania seems content to watch the world — and much needed election reform — pass them by.