New Castle News

John K. Manna

May 12, 2012

John K. Manna: County residents classify themselves in assorted ways

NEW CASTLE — Here’s a fun fact about some Lawrence County residents.

It’s a fact that I bet only a handful — a small hand at that — are aware of. And the fact is that 2,141 county residents have no affiliation.

Affiliation to what, you may ask? Those residents are registered to vote under the heading of no affiliation. Another 2,160 residents are registered as no political party.

You might also be asking, “What’s the difference between no affiliation and no party?”

Nothing, really. But that’s how they are classified on the county’s registration rolls.

Another 821 residents actually call themselves independents.

It doesn’t end there, however. There are people registered as bipartisan, neutral, none and undecided.

But maybe my favorite are the 11 people who are registered as unknown. I don’t know about you, but I submit that it takes quite a bit of courage to say you don’t know what you are.

All told, out of the nearly 61,000 people registered in the county, there are more than 5,000 people who consider themselves independent of any party. Plus, there is a bunch registered with various parties, including Libertarian, which — outside of the Republicans and Democrats — has the largest number of registered voters in the county with 212.

The 5,681 people who consider themselves independent or something other than Republicans or Democrats were not allowed to vote in the primary. That’s the way it is under Pennsylvania law. They can vote, however, on referendums when they appear on primary ballots.

While everyone has the right to register as they wish, the fact is that independent voters have little say in the electoral process. Sure, we’ll be hearing from now through the fall from political analysts that independents probably will play some role in the outcome of the November presidential election.

However, in Pennsylvania at least, independent voters are left basically with crumbs so to speak when they go to the polls in November.

For instance, five candidates ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator in the primary. Obviously, one person survived, but independents had no voice in weeding out the candidates.

And in the 12th congressional district race, Rep. Mark Critz eked out a victory over Rep. Jason Altmire for the Democratic nomination. Who knows, had more independents been registered Democrat, the outcome may have been different.

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