Starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 am, polls across the state of Pennsylvania open their doors at 7:00 a.m. to registered voters looking to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot in the 2014 primary election. Throughout all the hoopla that surrounded this gubernatorial race, it is important to remember that the primary is not just about the candidates running for governor. An article in Penn Live reminds PA voters that there other candidates running for election on Tuesday, May 20 such as for the State Executive, US Legislature, and State Legislature. The League of Women Voters provides information for voters about the contests and candidates to aide them in making an informed decision before going to the polls. The past couple of voting years were wrought with confusion about the photo ID requirement which was challenged at Commonwealth Court and deemed unconstitutional. The bottom line is that photo identification is only required for first time voters. If a person has voted in an election before, they do not need to provide their driver’s license, state ID, or any other form of state-approved photo identification. Information about the photo ID and any other questions about what to do at the polls can be found through the Department of State’s website and also through the League of Women Voters.
Whether one is a first time voter or has voted multiple times in many elections throughout the years, this election is one that has been highly contested between both the Democrats and the Republicans. Pennsylvania is one of many states that has a closed primary which means that only members who are registered with one of the two aforementioned political parties may more in the primary. A May 15 article in HUFFPOST POLSTER showed that from June 2013 until the latest poll from May 12-13 was released that the numbers continue to shift and change from month to month and even week to week. What they often do not take into consideration is the number of people who remain undecided. Harper’s latest poll still shows Tom Wolf the reigning leader with 50% of the votes followed by Schwartz and McCord tied at 15% each and McGinty trailing behind with 5%. What remains an unknown factor is how the 16% of undecided people will vote in tomorrow’s election. At the end of April, Muhlenberg College pollsters found that 33% of voters were undecided about who they would elect for governor, and as the weeks get closer to the primary, the numbers close in even more. Just the same, it is anyone’s guess what will happen tomorrow at the polls.
Knowing that tomorrow is the do or die day means that candidates running for election are going to do anything and everything to get their name out there so if nothing else uninformed voters or those who are undecided may see a recognizable name and cast the ballot for that person. It comes down to name recognition for many people especially those voters who prefer to not be politically involved or informed. It is not uncommon for voters to cast a ballot simply based on name recognition or going on advice from a family member or friend. It may be that they see a sign in their neighbor’s yard with a candidate’s name on it and pick that person even though they may know nothing about the candidate or their political views or platform. It could be that the undecided voter meets one of the candidates standing outside the polling place, and based solely on that personal interaction, casts their ballot for said person.
Getting citizens to come out and vote at elections has been a challenge for years much of it due to voter apathy and limitations on choice. This year the incumbent was going to face a challenge at the primary from a Republican candidate seeking to be the next governor. Bob Guzzardi won one challenge in court filled against him by Republican Party backed supporters who were semi-successful in getting him pulled from the ballot in many counties. What might have actually been an interesting political race reverted back the same old boring politics as usual. Part of this is due to PA’s antiquated system of using a closed primary. Democrats and Republicans seek to keep it this way as it benefits their political parties. On the flip side, this policy excludes independents and anyone from a third party who might want to have a say in local politics. Moreover, it keeps many citizens from wanting to register to vote and to exercise that right at the elections. The message being sent from the bi-partisan system is that citizens should only vote for one of the two major parties. If a person thinks outside the box or wants to have any freedom of choice, they are limited to the rules established by the two political parties in control who no matter what they preach have no desire to upset the apple cart.