New Castle News

Closer Look

September 28, 2013

John K. Manna: Despite significance of races, history suggests a low turnout this fall

NEW CASTLE — The deadline to register to vote in the November election is just nine days away.

It’s highly doubtful we’ll see hordes of unregistered people rushing to the courthouse to get their names on the registration rolls generally because odd-numbered year elections simply don’t generate as much interest as those in the even-numbered years.

As a primer for the uninitiated, odd-numbered years in Pennsylvania feature races for local offices while the even-numbered years focus strictly on statewide and national contests.

Some states have both local and state contests in the same year, but I believe Pennsylvania does it the right way. More voters may be encouraged to vote if state contests were on the ballot with school board races, but then the local races would probably be drowned out by the attention given to a governor’s race, for example.

That said, it’s always been astounding to me why voter turnout isn’t as high in local elections as it is in statewide elections.

But as with anything, there is always an exception. Voter turnout in the 1997 general election exceeded the turnout in the 1998 gubernatorial election by seven percentage points.

The reason could be attributed to the ballot question in 1997 that asked voters in 11 western Pennsylvania counties whether the state sales tax should be increased to finance two new stadiums. The increase was overwhelmingly defeated.

Obviously, voters made a difference in that election. Even if the turnout had been lower, the tax increase probably would have been defeated anyway.

Although local officials have the power to increase property taxes, decide if and when a street should be plowed of snow and even setting Halloween hours, voters apparently don’t feel the same urgency as they did in the 1997 election.

Sure, serveral races on the Nov. 5 ballot were decided in the May primary, but there are still a bunch throughout Lawrence County that remain for the taking. And it all depends on who turns out to vote.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Lottery.jpg Lottery officials: Seniors should get smaller payout

    State lottery officials say less means more for seniors. The lottery took in $3.8 billion in sales last year and will give more than $1 billion of it — or 28.5 percent — to programs for senior citizens.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.


    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • bridgerepair.jpg PennDOT seeks outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage