Committee of Seventy: Voter turnout ‘very light’ so far

Political watchdog group Committee of Seventy released some midday election figures sampled from 11 divisions around the city. Despite the mild weather, turnout has been very light, says the group.

In the Northeast Region, which includes the closely-watched (and closely-fought) 10th District Councilmanic race between Republican Brian O’Neill, who has held the seat since 1979, and Democrat Bill Rubin, 9.4 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in one ward sampled and 4.7 percent and 7.5 percent voted in the other two.

Also in the Northeast Region, campaign literature without a statement of sponsorship that was being
distributed in the 63rd Ward prompted an Election Court hearing this afternoon. The Court
ordered the literature to be confiscated by the Sheriff’s Office after
the Republican City committee presented a witness who testified that he
saw the literature being handed out on behalf of democratic candidates
in several divisions, the Committee said.

In the North Region, 4.6 and 7.7 percent of registered voters voted in the two wards sampled; in the South Region, 5.2 percent and 6 percent of the voters in the wards sampled voted; in the Central Region, 11.7 and 7 percent voted and in the West, 8.8 and 5.8 percent voted.

Voter turnout has declined since 1991, in which 60.8 percent of registered voters cast a ballot to elect Democrat Ed Rendell over Republican Joe Egan. In the contentious battle between Democrat John Street and Republican Sam Katz in 1999, 44.8 percent voted and in 2007,when current Mayor Michael Nutter beat out Republican candidate Al Taubenberger, 27.73 percent of registered voters did so.

The Committee has received reports of one polling machine problem: in the South Region’s First Council District, in which Democrat Mark Squilla is running for City Council unopposed, voters at Bethel Baptist Church were only able to select Democratic party candidates. The Judge of Elections called the voting machine company, and the Committee said they will follow up on the issue.

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