Front Page: August 27, 2018

Front Page: August 27, 2018

Voter registration numbers for Republicans have decreased since the May primary while some numbers have increased for Democrats and others have waned.

According to statistics compiled by Delaware County, Democrats had 184,328 voters as of Thursday, compared to 182,680 at the end of April. Republicans, in the same time period, reported 161,296 Thursday and 162,182 in April.

"I would say the reason that it's high is that we are in unusual times," Colleen Guiney, chairwoman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, said. "We have a Republican administration that is destroying safety nets and the environment. In order for there to be a pushback in the Republican administration, there needs to be a Democratic Congress ... Right now, people are registering to vote and they can make a difference."

Delaware County Republican Chairman Andrew Reilly said voter identification is often a mechanism dictated by national perceptions.

"People mainly choose a party identity that aligns with perceptions of the national political party," he said. "The increase in Democrat registration is not unexpected due to the constant emphasis by the national media of negative news from Washington that overlooks important issues like the expanding economy and record-setting job numbers."

However, Reilly has noted the difference in active voters, which is a statistic that better represents voters who actually show up at the polls. After a certain period of inactivity, voters who have not exercised their civic duty are purged from the rolls.

At first, they are labeled "inactive" if they have not voted for five consecutive years. Then, if they have not voted in either of the next two federal elections, their name is purged from the system.

In Delaware County, Democrats had 163,959 active voters Thursday compared to 169,846 in April, which is a 5,887 decrease. Republicans had 147,768 active voters as of Thursday and 157,640 active voters in April, representing a 9,872 dip.

Throughout her interactions, the Democratic chairwoman said people from both parties are discontent with the federal administration.

She said there is a national trend in which people who are concerned about where the country is headed are working to increase the number of registered voters as, she added, they believe "that's going to make our country better and get more participation. I'm finding more civic engagement now than I have in a long time."

Guiney said there have been a number of independent groups in Delaware County as well as Democrats themselves working to increase the rolls and she said she sees an increase in both voters and in volunteers.

"Each voter has their own story," she said, adding that some have lost family or friends to gun violence, others are concerned about the environment, some have family members on the West Coast or some are experiencing the flooding of this summer as seen in places like Darby.

"Yes, the climate is changing and our current administration is only making it worse," she said.

These voters and volunteers see the impacts from the administration's decisions, Guiney said.

"Previously uninvolved individuals now believe the country is in a crisis and that is causing them to get engaged," she added. 

She said she's noticed that sentiment as she knocks on doors for candidates she supports.

"There are people that say, 'I am absolutely voting and I'm frightened the way this country is heading. I will absolutely vote for the Democrats because of the way this country is heading,'" Guiney said. "That is something I have never seen before - this level of engagement and this level of fear."

Reilly said discontent was also shown in the Republican gains during the former administration.

"It is also not unexpected that Democrat voter enthusiasm is increased as the White House is now occupied by a Republican," he said. "When Democrat president Barack Obama was in office for two years, in 2010, Republicans picked up six U.S. Senate seats, 63 U.S. House of Representative seats, six governorships and 20 state legislative bodies, including the Pennsylvania House of Representatives."

In fact, Reilly added, Democrats are  moving to Delaware County because of the stability offered here.

"Additionally, in Delaware County, we are continuing to see registered Democrat(s) fleeing from Philadelphia into Delaware County due to failing Philadelphia schools and excessive Philadelphia taxes caused by overgenerous government employee entitlements," he said. "They are moving into Delaware County where the Republican County Council has balanced its budget and held the line on taxes for four consecutive years."

Regarding the Democrat surge, Guiney said eventually, the numbers will stop growing.

"There may be a point where we reach saturation," she said. "I don't know if we're close to saturation."

She did, however, said she was certain about voting trends.

"I think the trend toward the Democratic Party will continue to be strong unless and when their leader changes in Washington," Guiney said.

Reilly warned those who would conflate local elections with the White House.

"Fortunately for the Delaware County Republican Party, our incumbent Republican state legislators and candidates for Legislature this year are local, community-minded, common sense public servants who put Delaware County voters first regardless of political party," he said. "As a result, our Republican candidates receive votes from Republican, Democrat and Independent voters. A vote this year in the state legislative races for Democrats to send a message to Donald Trump is a wasted, misguided vote."

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