Voter turnout over time in Pennsylvania cities

    Voter turnout has dropped 12 percentage points in Pennsylvania over the last five gubernatorial elections, and even more so in most of the Commonwealth’s urban centers, according to Keystone Crossroads’ analysis of Department of State data.

     

    Voter turnout has dropped 12 percentage points in Pennsylvania over the last five gubernatorial elections, and even more so in most of the Commonwealth’s urban centers, according to Keystone Crossroads’ analysis of Department of State data.

    One might expect the decline to stem at least in part from decreased voter registration and a drop in the adult population.

    But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    Voter registration increased statewide by 45 percent; the voting-age population, by 9 percent.

    While most cities also increased registration, they lost voting-age residents.

    The voting-age population fell in most of the cities and other distressed communities examined by Keystone Crossroads, most drastically in Braddock, Allegheny County, which in 2010 had half as many voting age residents as two decades prior. 

    Allentown, Bethlehem and a handful of other cities added adult residents, each by less than 10 percent.

    Although most of the Commonwealth’s distressed cities had fewer residents eligible to vote, more of those remaining registered.

     Registration declined in only a handful of the Commonwealth’s distressed communities:

    Hazleton (down 12 percent), Johnstown (4 percent), Clairton (2 percent), and Harrisburg, (9 percent) as well as the tiny Allegheny County communities of Homestead (27 percent) and Rankin (30 percent).

    It increased in the others, more than doubling in sparsely populated Westfall Township and Millbourne borough.That failed to translate to stronger turnouts, however.

    Turnout increased only in Harrisburg, despite the capital city losing voting-age residents and registered voters.

    Experts attributed that to enhanced public engagement one might expect in the state capital, although the city’s turnout remains low (compared to other cities) despite its trend-defying rise in 2010 and status as a government center for more than 200 years.

    Total mid-term turnout is expected to continue to dwindle this year.

    Graphics by Tom Downing/WITF

    Changes in voter turnout for mid-term elections in Pennsylvania cities

    Community 2010 turnout percent of registered voters Percent change since 1994
    Erie 61% (6)
    Nanticoke 52  (14)
    Pennsylvania 48  (13)
    Bethlehem 48  (8)
    Hazleton 47  (15)
    Millbourne 45  (8)
    West Hazleton 44  (17)
    Johnstown 43  (18)
    Philadelphia 41  (10)
    Aliquippa 40  (13)
    Clairton 40  (17)
    Wilkes-Barre 40  (19)
    Pittsburgh 39  (16)
    Scranton 39  (18)
    Williamsport 39  (19)
    Farrell 38  (16)
    Altoona 38  (26)
    Wilkinsburg 37  (13)
    North Braddock 35  (25)
    New Castle 35  (26)
    East Pittsburgh 33  (25)
    Chester 32  (15)
    Duquesne 32  (21)
    Westfall Township 32  (23)
    Braddock 30  (20)
    Allentown 30  (24)
    Lebanon 30  (28)
    Shamokin 30  (37)
    Harrisburg 29 3
    Greenville 29  (31)
    Easton 28  (25)
    Reading 24  (26)
    York 23  (33)
    Lancaster 21  (32)
    Homestead 20  (33)
    Plymouth Township 15  (48)

     

     

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