EDITORIAL: Make your voice heard in vital primaries

York Dispatch

It is hardly overstating the fact to note that this year’s off-year elections are likely to be the most consequential in recent political history.

President Donald Trump has proven every bit the unconventional leader he promised to be, and not always for the better.

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Beset by scandals of his own making (payment of $130,000 to an adult film actress to buy her silence about an alleged affair), dogged by a special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election (and potential ties to his campaign), undercut by his own impolitic Twitter rantings and a revolving door of senior advisors, the president has wallowed well below a 50 percent approval rating since taking office.

His administration has not been without successes, yet with the exception of a seeming détente with North Korea, they have come largely through Republican heavy-handedness in the Senate, where traditional rules were either bent (as with single-party passage of a massive tax cut) or dismissed altogether (as with dismissal of the filibuster to sweep Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court).

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Is one-party rule working? How would Trump govern were Congress split, or were Democrats to take over both houses? What would be best for the country?

Voters in York County and throughout Pennsylvania get their first chance to weigh on Tuesday as the state holds primary elections. If residents think there’s no reason to make their voice heard at the polls this year, they haven’t been paying attention.

More:10 contested races in York County primary election

Regardless of whether Republicans hold their majorities in the House and Senate, or Democrats wrest them away, the margins are likely to be razor thin. That means every member on both sides of the aisle has the potential to wield political clout. All the more reason to have a say in who those leaders will be.

And for the first time in memory, two of them will represent York County. The state’s new political maps split the county between the 10th and 11th congressional districts (the former largely in the northern part of the county, that latter in the southern). Voters will want to do their homework, both in terms of candidates and geography.

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In the 10th district, four Democrats are competing to take on incumbent Republican Scott Perry, who is unopposed. In the 11th, incumbent Republican Lloyd Smucker is being challenged by Lancaster resident Chet Beiler.

Voters will also decide the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Congressman Lou Barletta and state Rep. Jim Christiana are going head to head, with the winner facing Democratic incumbent Bob Casey.

The Republican nominee for governor is likewise on the line, with local state Sen. Scott Wagner facing Allegheny County candidates Laura Ellsworth and Paul Mango in hopes of taking on Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf this fall. A handful of candidates are seeking the lieutenant governor nomination in both parties.

More:Wagner transitions from write-in opposition to GOP frontman

And, of course, several state-level contests are on the ballot, with candidates jockeying for ballot spots in several state Senate and House races.

District maps and other information can be found at the county’s elections website.

County elections officials have taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the 2017 municipal election hiccup. And candidates have been, by and large, active in getting out their messages.

More:York County making extra preparations ahead of primary election

Pennsylvania played an important role in elevating Donald Trump to the White House in 2016. How the second half of his first term plays out will depend in large part on the makeup of Congress. And that question begins to be answered, in Pennsylvania, tomorrow.

There are no excuses — especially this year — for voters not add their voices to the sometimes raucous, often unruly but ultimately defining exercise that is the American electoral process.