EDITORIAL: Motivate voters, win elections

York Dispatch

Registered Republicans have outnumbered Democrats in York County for years — but the local political landscape isn't as bright red as one might think.

The GOP's 129,710-to-95,907 edge is significant, but not insurmountable. It's nothing, for instance, compared to true-blue Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1.

And, of course, party registration doesn't mean a thing if people don't actually vote.

About 83 percent of York County's major-party voters stayed home during Tuesday's primary election, leaving just 37,985 people to decide for all of us which candidates' names will appear on the ballot for the November general election.

While neither party can brag about its turnout, nearly twice as many Republicans as Democrats voted.

This tell us two things:

First, Pennsylvania should have open primaries in which anyone can vote regardless of their party affiliation.

Numbering 43,000, independents and those non-affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties make up the fastest-growing voting bloc in York County.

Yet Pennsylvania's closed primary system — one of only 13 in the country — means they can't participate until the General Election, by which time many races are already decided.

The other takeaway from Tuesday is that both parties need to up their get-out-the-vote games – but especially Democrats if they hope to be competitive in November.

Turnouts for general elections tend to be higher than for primaries, but not incredibly so.

Last November, only 44 percent of York County registered voters participated in the election, meaning both parties left a significant number of votes on the table.

If Democrats can do a better job than Republicans at motivating their voters, it would go a long way toward blunting the GOP's registration edge.

And that's going to be necessary if Democrats hope to win contests outside of their York City stronghold.