Voter turnout ranged from dismal to pretty good in Philly region

Voter turnout in Philadelphia during Tuesday’s General Election was expected to be dismally low.

It was. For the sixth-straight, off-year election, voter participation dropped. The city’s unofficial election results translated to a turnout total of 11.3 percent, nearly a percentage point lower than the total in 2009.


Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and City Controller Alan Butkovitz were both re-elected in the process.

Ellen Kaplan, vice president of the Committee of Seventy, the election watchdog group, said Wednesday that Philadelphia’s voter participation could dip lower in four years, but probably not to single digits.

“It’s hard to go much lower to tell you the truth,” said Kaplan. “There are some people, myself included, who vote in every single election no matter what. There are people who it’s their habit to vote. Twice a year they go to the polls. So I think it’s fair to assume that you’re going to get at least 10 percent of the voters.”

Voter turnout in Philadelphia was far lower than figures found in the city’s suburbs and in South Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie cruised to a second term.

In Gloucester County, for example, the unofficial turnout was 41.5 percent.

“If the top of the ticket is not governor or president than it’s a lot lower than a 40 percent. You could see numbers 27 percent, 30 percent, sometimes 20 percent,” said Stephanie Salvatore, the county’s superintendent of elections.

Voters in Ocean County and Cape May County showed up in even bigger numbers.

More than 20 percent of suburban Philadelphia voters cast ballots during Tuesday’s election, which included a number of seats on local school boards and some county-wide races.

Kaplan, with Committee of Seventy, said turnout in Philadelphia should spike soon.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is facing re-election in 2014. A slew of candidates is also expected to run for mayor the following year. In 2016, voters nationwide will chose the country’s next president.

“There are going to be three years coming up of very exciting elections,” said Kaplan.

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