It should come as no surprise that tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th, is Election Day. This is a municipal general election where any United State citizen who is at least 18 years or older, a Pennsylvania citizen residing for at least 30 days in one of the election districts and registered to vote, is eligible to cast their ballot tomorrow for their choice of candidates running for the office. Although there are a few candidates at the State level running for judicial office, the majority of the candidates are running at the local level including Judge for the Court of Common Pleas, magisterial district office, county treasurer, school board, election judges, election inspector, township supervisor, council, and mayor. New voters and anyone who is undecided can find helpful general information from the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization devoted to providing voters with information about voting and candidates. Their website has a voters guide to the 2013 election along with some information about the candidates running for Judge of the Superior Court and Justice of the Supreme Court. Any voter who resides in Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, or York Counties can find answers to frequently asked voting questions along with a link to the "Meet the Candidates guide" online through Penn Live who have a link to a drop down menu to search for candidates running for office in the municipality or school district. Unsure where to vote tomorrow? PA Votes has that information available on their website. Simply type in the county of residence, city and address to view the voting location.
Tomorrow's Election Day really is about keeping politics local. It may not be as exciting as a highly contested primary or a national general election. That goes back to our country's value and importance of competition. Election Day is viewed by some voters as win by any cost necessary. It is almost as though the candidates were playing on the CBS TV game show Survivor trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast one another to win the game. For other voters, voting is like watching a good game of ping-pong where especially in a close game, one is on the edge of their seat wondering who is going to win. Many primaries and municipal elections are almost like the away team travelling to watch their child play a high school football game. Sure they want their team to win, but in the grand scheme of things, hardly anyone from the school shows up to a travel game unless it is homecoming. Even then, supporters from the opposing team are slow to attend. Why? It could be the been there; done that before mentality. Maybe it is just too cold to go out to cheer on the team that lost the past five seasons or it could be too cold to sit in the stands waiting through four quarters. So parents and students stay home leaving their school spirit in another lifetime leaving it up to the cheerleaders, team parents and hard core fans to keep the school pride going. If the team scores a win, everyone feels good. If the team loses, well then, no surprise and no use in having gone anyway.
The fact is that it is just plain hard to get registered voters to leave their home on Election Day to cast a ballot. For example, in Franklin County there are 75,395 registered voters with 49,466 being registered Republicans, 25,441 registered Democrats and 488 voting non-partisan. The results of May's primary election show that around 19% of all Franklin County voters eligible to vote in the election cast their ballot which means that less than 20% of the voters decided which candidates would move on the the general election. Granted there is typically a rise in voter turnout for municipal general elections ranging anywhere from 25-45%. Even with an increase in voting at the general elections, that still leaves anywhere from 55-75% of eligible registered Franklin County voters who do not cast a ballot on Election Day. Outside of a few contested races, many of the candidates running for local office do so uncontested. Some candidates even cross file for both major parties which narrows the playing field and ensuring the candidate is elected one way or the other. There are some races where the candidate is on the ballot twice for the same position in Franklin County.
Blame it on voter apathy, general laziness or helps the person sleep well at night, but the fact remains that it is part of the duty of being a good citizen to cast a ballot for the candidate who the voter thinks will best represent them and their municipality, county, state and nation. It is a cop-out to sit at home on Election Day and let half of the citizens decide who will be elected into office. Worse yet is to complain after the fact. People say they are disgusted with politics and that things will never change. They are right. Things will never change as long as people stay away from the polls. Politics will be corrupt and managed like a sports game controlled by the political parties as long as the voters let someone else decide. People say they have no choice which is why they don't vote or think that their vote does not matter. If the 55-75% of voters who do not regularly vote come out tomorrow and cast their ballot for the candidates they want to represent them, there would be change. The polls are open tomorrow from 7:00 AM-8:00 PM which leave ample time for registered voters to cast their ballot before work, on their lunch break and before going home for the day. Quit letting others decide the fate of our state and take back power and control by voting on Election Day!