This past week, only about a third of the Valley’s registered voters actually showed up to be counted. Of the 111,593 people registered, 77,168 chose not to have their voices heard in an election that hit just about every important facet of local life, including county commissioners and school boards.
Turnout was down in three of four Valley counties — yay! for Northumberland County’s 30.8 percent voter turnout, a three-point improvement over the spring primary. To be fair, additional voters in Snyder and Union counties last spring were likely drawn to the polls because of the special election to replace Tom Marino in Congress.
The excuses for not showing up are tired and boring.
If you think “my vote doesn’t count,” consider what happened in Lewisburg. In the borough’s Fourth Ward, Democrat Elijah Farrell held a 10-vote lead over Rudy Mummey following election night. After the official count came in — including absentee ballots and write-ins — Farrell won by six votes, 145-139.
In that race, every vote counted.
If you think you are too busy to vote, Google “Andrew Morgan astronaut.” Daily Item sister paper, The New Castle News, this week had a terrific story out of Lawrence County, where Andrew Morgan, who lives in Neshannock Township, reached out for an absentee ballot.
Morgan needed one because he was, most certainly, absent for election day. Morgan is manning the International Space Station as a United States astronaut so he reached out to election officials in his home county for a ballot.
If that guy can vote, you can vote.
Here’s a reminder if you’re in the “I didn’t know it was election day” excuse line: Pennsylvania’s primary in 2020 is scheduled for April 28; the general election — highlighted by the presidential election — is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Mark those dates on the calendar you get for Christmas. Put big red circles on those two dates.
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers recently passed a bill designed to make it easier to vote, but also, we believe, should create a more informed electorate.
It will be easier to submit absentee ballots and the window to register to vote will be moved closer to election day. Additionally, single-party voting is going away, which will have a significant impact in the Valley where nearly 11,000 of the 34,435 votes cast were straight-party.
When hitting the polls next year, voters will have to make selections for each race. You can still select every Republican or every Democrat, but perhaps it leads to a brief pause to consider the issues rather than party affiliation.
It might not, but the important thing is to show up.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.