Although voter turnout overall was low Tuesday, there were pockets of strong participation that highlighted the races that attracted the highest levels of interest.
At a time when many fear growing voter apathy, it’s clear to us that compelling and important races still bring out residents to participate in this civic process.
Turnout across Centre County was 17.92 percent, higher than the abysmal 12 percent seen in the primary but still much lower than we would like to see.
Of the county’s 107,414 registered voters, 19,245 cast ballots, according to unofficial elections office data.
But don’t draw from that a sense of broad disenchantment with this election.
Especially in Penns Valley, people headed to the polls in good numbers.
Consider these turnout figures in that region:
• Centre Hall, 38.55 percent
• Gregg Township, 43.12
• Haines Township, 44.13
• Miles Township (two precincts), 36.80
• Millheim, 39.63
• Penn Township, 46.87 (highest turnout in the county)
• Potter Township (two precincts), 36.85
With a highly contested school board race on the ballot, more than 2,500 votes were counted in Penns Valley. Bravo!
Voters also were tuned in to school board battles in Bellefonte, Bald Eagle and Philipsburg-Osceala, and races in many individual communities. Voting for mayor in State College and Port Matilda showed nice interest.
Here are some other municipalities or precincts that helped lift the countywide turnout numbers:
• Bellefonte Northeast, 31.72 percent
• Burnside Township, 36.6
• Curtin Township North, 31.75
• Halfmoon Township, 34.18
• Harris Township East, 30.11
• Harris Township West, 32.57
• Port Matilda, 35.62
• Rush Township South, 43.70
• State College North, 36.39
• State College South 2, 38.40
• State College West 1, 36.81
• State College West 2, 41.77
• Union Township, 33.33
• Unionville, 39.89
• Walker Township East, 30.88
As is often the case, State College saw the best of times and the worst times.
Several borough precincts reported very low turnout as students chose not to participate in the local election.
In State College East 4, there were 4,064 voters registered but just 10 ballots completed (.25 percent). Wow. Such occurrences in the Centre Region pulled down the county numbers.
Let’s be clear; we are not celebrating a November election turnout of just less than 20 percent.
It’s not nearly good enough, with so many important local battles being contested, that fewer than one-fifth of the residents who bothered to register to vote actually did.
However, we see silver linings here and there in this generally dark cloud.
And we’re reassured that when important issues are on the table and when candidates step forward and get engaged, people still respond by voting.
This gives us hope, at a time politically when good feelings have been all too fleeting.