Don’t ever think that your vote doesn’t count – even in a primary election.
Slightly more than 13 percent of the registered voters in Pennsburg cast their ballots in the May primary this year. Marlborough Township had a better showing with more than 19 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Both of those numbers are disappointing but fared better than many other municipalities in Montgomery County.
In Pennsburg six candidates were vying for four open slots on the Republican ballot for the November election. Those slots were secured by Vicki Lightcap, Michael Mensch, Cody Belmont and Diane Stevens in the May primary. Only one Democrat, Douglas Criddle, was on the ballot.
The official election results, issued recently by Montgomery County, shows that the power of write-in votes can make a difference in an election.
When all the votes were tallied, including the write-ins, Pennsburg Republican primary candidates for a seat on borough council Frederick Shutte and Wayne Stevens garnered 25 votes each on the Democratic side to earn a slot on the November ballot.
In addition Diane Stevens, already a winner on the Republican ticket, picked up 28 write-in votes on the Democratic slate to earn a spot there as well.
What appeared to be a five-way November race for four council positions is now back to a seven-way race with all of the primary names returning for the general election in November, with a few of them running under a different banner.
In Marlborough Township, the May primary election saw Republican Brian Doremus capturing the slot to run against the lone Democrat (Betty White) in the November election. However, due to the power of the write-in vote, Doremus was able to gather enough votes to top White on the Democratic side and will run unopposed this fall.
Write-in votes are nothing new and have had an impact on municipal elections in the past. It can be a sign of a determined candidate, voter apathy or lax effort on the part of officials of recognized political parties to promote their candidates or even offer qualified candidates.
In a statewide primary election, voters have little choice but to resort to write-in votes when they are not satisfied with what the major parties present.
Current Pennsylvania law makes it difficult for Independent and minor party candidates to appear on the ballot – more so than most other states. The result is less political competition, less political dialog and fewer choices to vote for in November.
Some would-be candidates prefer to be associated with others who think and represent ideas that don’t necessarily conform to those of the major parties and they like the idea of not being beholden to, limited by or bent towards one ideology.
Write-in campaigns have been successful for a number of candidates in Pennsylvania counties over the years. Many of those campaigns focused on educating voters on the candidate, as well as instructing them on the proper way to cast a write-in vote. It can be a viable alternative to the major party candidates thrust upon them.
When voters are deprived of choices they should have had on the ballot, they have no choice but to write it in.