Why was the Erie County voter turnout so low? We spoke to local election professionals to find out

Local News

More than 36,000 Erie County residents cast their votes in the Primary Election yesterday.  But, there are approximately 280,000 people living in Erie County according to a recent census.

So, with nearly 80% of those people not participating in the election, it sparks a concern of whether or not our elected officials are really a reflection of the community or just a small cluster. 

Doug Smith, Erie County Clerk of Elections, says, “You get your people out and you don’t have to get as many out and you’re looking at a smaller number of people making that decision.”

Bill Cole, Erie County Democratic Party Chairman, says, “We work very hard here on voter turnout. A lot of the other organizations around town work hard on it. We have a lot of activity in terms of registering voters.” 

Smith tells us in Erie County, the older generations are still carrying the bulk of the vote, but local leaders tell us they’re making an effort to encourage younger people to get involved.

In any election, the winner is the one who gets their people out to vote. Cole says, “You’d get different candidates and you’d have a lot more responsive candidates and you’d have less people going into City Hall and County Council Chambers complaining because they’d be getting the results they want.”

Justin Gallagher, East Erie County GOP Chair, says, “Millennials have the largest voting block right now. So, Millennials could control who will go into what office if they voted”.

He also says that “These issues and challenges impact you and they’re gonna impact your kids and your grandkids someday and if we don’t want to keep going with the status quo, we need more people to go out and vote.” 

This Primary Election carried a few high-profile races with candidates facing off locally for a chance to be on the ticket for a seat in Congress and the State House.  And, even with a governor’s race on the table, voter turnout still staggers at just 22%.

Experts say there just weren’t enough big races to bring in big numbers at the polls.  Smith tells us the older population is carrying the bulk of the vote.

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