Pennsylvania Registration Hits High

This story was written by Mandy Hofmockel, Daily Collegian
One week before the influential Pennsylvania primary, voter registration in the state has broken record primary registration numbers, as has Centre County, with still more registration forms to be counted.

The registration is "unprecedented" for a Pennsylvania primary, said Rebecca Halton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The most recent data available from the Department of State Web site has 8,326,564 registered voters from all parties, the highest ever for a Pennsylvania primary. The number did not, however, break the total for general election registration record, set in the 2004 presidential race, according to the site, dos.state.pa.us. Voters have until Oct. 6 to register for the general election in November.

According to the department's Web site, Centre County has 39,963 Democrats, 36,987 Republicans and 13,162 third-party voters.

Joyce McKinley, director of Centre County Office of Elections and Voter Registration, said a registration of 90,112 is the highest in Centre County history. She said there was a major shift in political party, with many voters registering as Democrats.

Some forms still need to be counted before the April 22 primary, Halton said.

"These are not final numbers," she added.

Halton said the department has seen a trend in people switching parties and registering for the first time.

She said the department is looking to get voters prepared to vote.

For example, she said voters can go to votespa.com to help locate polling places.

New voters, whether they have a change in precinct or have registered for the first time, will need to bring an approved form of identification when voting, she added.

Dianne Gregg, Centre County Democrats chairwoman, said the high number of registrations will be helpful in the fall's general elections and that the county numbers would make a difference in the local congressional race.

"In the primary of course it's Democrat versus Democrat and Republican versus Republican," Gregg said.

She said the Democrats in Centre County have done well in the past couple of years, and the numbers can be considered part of a trend.

G.T. Thompson, Centre County Republican Party chairman and a candidate for the 5th Congressional District seat, said the high registration can be attributed in part to a "contentious" Democratic race.

Thompson said an active primary race gets people to vote and such races include presidential and gubernatorial races.

He said a great deal of the registrations are because of students, but the populations shift as students arrive and graduate.

Elizabeth Goreham, registered Democrat and State College Borough Council president, said she is excited about the rise in interest in voting.

"I think that most of that is students and I am delighted," she said.

Goreham said interest in the election could be contributed to a number of things, including a rise in gas prices, the Iraq War and dissatisfaction with the direction of the country.

"There's a real upheaval now," she said.

Goreham said she hopes there will be enough voting machines that will function and record votes correctly.

"But we'll see on Election Day," she said. "I hope they all vote."
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE
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