Midterm elections highlighted locally by low turnout and close Huntingdon County race

Seniors+Marin+Grabill+and+Aleic+Hunter+were+among+few+who+voted+in+the+2014+midterm+elections

Amber Chamberlin

Seniors Marin Grabill and Aleic Hunter were among few who voted in the 2014 midterm elections

On November 4th, midterm elections for the US House of Representatives, Pennsylvania state House and Senate, governor of Pennsylvania, and various local offices resulted in low voter turnout across the country as well as locally.

Locally only 33% of registered voters turned out in Blair County and 36% in Centre County.

I felt like my opinion mattered, it felt like I was doing something”

— Senior Marin Grabill, on voting for the first time

Among Tyrone students eligible to vote, turnout was extremely low.

Senior Amber Chamberlin’s reason for not voting was shared by many of her fellow classmates.  “I didn’t know enough background information on any of the candidates” said Chamberlin.

The few seniors who did vote had this to say:

“I felt like my opinion mattered, it felt like I was doing something,” said senior voter Marin Garabill, “however, I feel like most people didn’t have enough knowledge to vote for any of the candidates.”

“It seemed like the right thing to do, I wanted to have a say,” said fellow senior and first time voter Aleic Hunter,” I think people didn’t vote because they didn’t really care [about the election]”

“It’s disappointing to see voter turnout this low,” said Tyrone Civics teacher Todd Cammarata, “but students are not any different than adults , with a lack of competitive races locally interest in the election was definitely down this year.”

However, turnout was much higher in Huntington County at 46%.

The higher turnout in Huntingdon was likely the result of the race for the 12th House district in which Republican Rich Irvin beat the incumbent Republican/Democrat Mike Fleck.

Fleck was Pennsylvania’s first openly gay representative in the House.  He was first elected in 2006. After coming out as gay Fleck was challenged and ousted in the primary by Huntingdon County treasurer Rich Irvin.  However, Fleck also won the Democratic primary on write in votes and chose to run in the general election as a Democrat against Irvin.

I didn’t know enough background information on any of the candidates”

— Senior Amber Chamberlin, on not voting

In the November 4 general election Irvin defeated Fleck by 1533 votes, 54% to 46%

Going into the elections, Democrats held majority in the Senate, occupying a total of 55 seats while Republicans only held 45. It was a different story in the House, Democrats only held 201 out of the 435 seats.

As of November 5, Republicans now hold majority in both the Senate and the House. This will make it more difficult for President Obama to follow his agenda, because the House AND the Senate may oppose his ideas.

Republicans also took control of Governors office in Maryland, Illinois, Arkansas and Massachusetts. The only governor race Democrats were able to win this year was in Pennsylvania.

Democrat Tom Wolf beat previous incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in a historic election. In 40 years, since our state began allowing two gubernatorial terms, no sitting governor seeking re-election has been defeated, until this election.

Tom Corbett was one of the most vulnerable governors this campaign season. He spent the majority of his term struggling with strong opposition to his cuts in the state education budget and was faced with a dramatic difference in charisma compared to Wolf.

Wolf has promised to shift more of the tax burden to the wealthy, reduce taxes for many middle class families and add multiple lower income filers to the 20-plus percent that pay no taxes. He also plans to maintain a pension program, that the state pays out to you for the rest of your life, for employees and opposes 401 k plans, which are accounts dedicated to retirement and get rid of unfunded liabilities for the state.

Additionally, Wolf has pledged to increase spending on public schools to 1 billion dollars and increase the state’s contribution of public school spending from 33% to 50%. Wolf proposes imposing a 5% severance(or extraction) tax on gas production instead of an “impact fee”, which is a fee drilling companies have to pay out to towns affected by the drilling in the area.

“I am so grateful to the voters of Pennsylvania for giving me this chance to serve as governor of Pennsylvania, and I recognize while I’m grateful for what a great honor they’ve [the voters] given me by giving me so many votes,” said governor elect Wolf in his victory speech, “I also recognize the responsibilities that have been placed on my shoulders to do great things for pennsylvania, I know that there is a heavy, fearsome responsibility on me. This is not just about the honor of getting votes, it’s about the necessity for doing great things for Pennsylvania.”