Puzzling Over Low Voter Turnout

Hello, this is my inaugural piece for the East Falls Local  and I am pleased to be in touch with my constituents via this blog.

The 2016 Primary Election is three months away and historically we have better turnout in a Presidential election year.

However, “better” is a relative term as average turnout is about 25%.

I am always puzzled by the fact that so many citizens do not appear to take the responsibility of voting as a life or death matter. The officials and judges that are being elected are certainly making life or death decisions on our behalf.

This past November we had elections for Mayor, City Council and judgeships from the PA Supreme Court to local municipal judge — turnout was below 25%.

One contributing factor may be that PA does not make it easy to vote.  There is a 13 hour window on one specific day, Election Day, and if something happens and you’re unable to get to the polls that day your vote is not recorded.

In 33 states and the District of Columbia, any qualified voter may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. This is referred to as early voting. The average starting time for early voting across all 33 states is 22 days before the election.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse. Some states offer a permanent absentee ballot list: once a voter asks to be added to the list, they will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections.

In Pennsylvania, we permit an absentee ballot only for certain reasons.  Pennsylvania does not use a “no excuse” absentee ballot system.  Absentee ballots must be requested for each election.

Three states actually vote using the U.S. Mail, exclusively. As a member of the bi-cameral, bi-partisan Government Reform Caucus, I am committed to advocating for the changes needed which will—hopefully—make it easier for more citizens to engage in the electoral process.

Until then, please circle March 28th on your calendar – that’s the last day to register to vote before the April 26th primary.

Don’t forget — you can also now register online at PA Voter Services.

Representative Pamela A. DeLissio serves the 194th Legislative District, which includes East Falls.

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