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Low voter turnout leads to Wolf's win at PA primary

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As it was reported in Penn Live this morning, Tom Wolf did exactly what he set out to do and won the Democratic primary election which means he will face off against the incumbent Governor Tom Corbett at November's general election. As of 10:30 a.m on Wednesday, May 21, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced the unofficial results of yesterday's primary election. With 99.53% precincts reporting statewide, it was determined that out of the four Democrats vying for Governor of PA that Tom Wolf won almost 58% of the vote. Allyson Schwartz ended up with close to 18% of the votes followed by Rob McCord who took about 17% of the votes. Out of the four Democratic contenders, Katie McGinty had the least amount of votes with a little more than 7.5%. As expected Tom Corbett received 368,995 votes which is equivalent to 100% of the total votes from all Republicans. Because his challenger Bob Guzzardi was not permitted to be on the ballots, this meant that Corbett would be a shoe-in for the November general election.

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In addition to the highly contested gubernatorial race, various Congressional district seats were also up for re-election throughout Pennsylvania. In Central PA, three contestants vied for the 9th District seat with the U.S. House of Representatives. Incumbent U.S. Rep Bill Shuster, who held his seat since 2001, managed to grab an easy win with a majority of the votes over his competitors: Art Halvorson, a retired officer with the coast guard and also a real estate developer and Travis Schooley from Franklin County. Politico announced that with 100% of the districts reporting that Shuster took 52.8% of the votes, Halvorson took 34.5%, and Schooley received 12.7%.

According to USA Today, Pennsylvania is one of six states with highly contested primaries which accentuates the great divide inside the Republican Party and Tea Party supporters. For quite some time there has been unrest and discord among the GOP about policies especially around the budget and fiscal responsibility. Halvorson, who was backed by Tea Party activists, did not get enough of the votes to unseat Shuster. In the governor's race, the Republican Party recognizes Corbett remains unpopular in the polls and is vulnerable to losing his seat when voters take to the polls in November. Still, they did not want to take a chance on newcomer Guzzardi hoping that Corbett's name recognition will earn him another four year as governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf's win yesterday makes him the leader of the pack and likely the best chance the Democratic Party has of a political realignment.

It has been noted over the years that voters are notorious for not voting in primary elections preferring to wait until the general elections to cast a ballot. What they may not realize is that voting in the primaries are their best chance to influence the outcome at the end. For example, there are 75,028 registered voters in Franklin County, PA. which translates to 49,709 (66.25%) registered Republicans and 25,319 (33.75%) registered Democrats. Voter turnout in this county was only a little more than 22% for both political parties. Out of the almost 34% of registered Democrats who had four choices to pick from for governor, only 4,646 cast ballots yesterday. Republican challenger Bob Guzzardi was listed on the ballot for this county and received almost 12% of the vote which compared to Corbett's almost 82% is a drop in the bucket, but with 42% of registered Republicans not voting in the primary, it is unknown what impact their votes might have had overall if they would have cast a ballot. For change to happen in Pennsylvania voting, a big part of that has to do with citizens exercising their right to vote. Sitting home when one has the opportunity to vote means that there should be less complaining when one did not voice their opinion at the polls.

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