The lone York County member of the Pirate Party of the United States is unlikely to rock the boat, but the county's combined 42,449 third-party voters could have sway in the Nov. 6 election.
More than 280,000 York residents made the Oct. 9 registration deadline to vote in the presidential election, with Republicans topping Democrats by about 34,000 voters.
There are 101,799 Democrats and 136,004 Republicans, and 42,449 third-party voters representing dozens of affiliations recognized by the York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration, according to a voter count obtained from the department.
While most of the third-party voters are registered "no affiliation" or independent, some represent obscure or antiquated parties from which people haven't switched, said Nikki Suchanic, director of Elections and Voter Registration.
York County has one member of the Prohibition Party and four Whigs, seven members of the Bull Moose Party and 32 members of the Patriot Party.
There's one Yorker registered to The Pirate Party, nine Communists, 13 Socialists, two members of the Halloween Party, and three Anarchists. There's only one member of the Good Neighbor Party.
The better-known third-parties have more representation. There are 1,979 Libertarians and 641 members of the Green Party.
Courted by parties: However they choose to identify themselves, the major parties are competing for the mass of uncommitted voters.
"I think they do play a vital key role in terms of the outcome of the election," said Bob Wilson, who chairs the York County Republican Party.
Independents made a difference for Barack Obama in 2008, he said, and the stakes are also high in state and congressional races.
But while Wilson's phone banks are wooing independents, he said he doubts those unaffiliated and third-party voters will be able to change the results in the 4th Congressional District race if they sided with the Democrats instead.
It would be unusual for 101,000 Democrats and 42,000 independents and third-party voters to hop on the same ticket to defeat the 136,000 Republicans in a Republican-favored district, he said.
"And that's assuming 100 percent turnout ... which doesn't happen," he said. "I'm truly not worried, specifically in the congressional race. I'm also knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. Any time you have one of your candidates on the ballot, nothing is a sure thing."
Independents and third-party voters don't have to choose Republican or Democrat in the 4th Congressional District; they have their own dogs in the fight.
The four candidates are Democrat Harry Perkinson, state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, Libertarian Mike Koffenberger and Independent Wayne Wolff.
Bob Kefauver, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, said Libertarians typically don't take as many votes from the Democratic Party as the Republican Party.
He said people are typically surprised "how close" the gap is between Democratic and Republican registration in the county.
"It's been the biggest myth in York County politics for decades," he said. "The average voter is under the impression it's three or four to one. (These numbers) put us in a position where, with strong Democratic turnout and support from independent and third-party voters, Democratic candidates can win races here in York County this year."
Expects high turnout: Suchanic said York is probably on target to reach the 66 percent turnout posted in the 2008 presidential election, as the number of absentee ballots are arriving in about the same volume.
There are about 20,000 fewer voters registered for this presidential election than the last. There were 299,414 voters on the rolls in 2008, according to statistics from the Department of Elections and Voter Registration.
The decrease represents a purging of files for deceased people and those who have had no voting activity for the previous five years, Suchanic said, so there's no accurate way to compare the registration for the two elections.
After the 2008 election, the Department of Elections and Voter Registration culled registration records for the first time in at least 10 years, and it will do it again after this year's election, she said.
For the 2012 primary, there were 99,363 Democrats and 132,480 Republicans registered.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.