Every election year there is a significant push to get as many new voters registered as possible. This year is no different, and like the state’s overall political atmosphere, Pennsylvania remains pretty average regarding registration.
There are 18 congressional districts in Pennsylvania, each separated into populations of 705,688. Lancaster falls under the new 11th district, which represents all of Lancaster County, along with a part of York County. The PA districts were redrawn after the state supreme court rejected the 2011 congressional map due to gerrymandering.
Lancaster County has a population of just over 543,000, with the eligible voting population just under 414,000. According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the number of citizens registered to vote was 322,000 in May, 2018. That means that roughly 78 percent of eligible Lancaster voters are registered. Compared to the national reported average of just over 70 percent, PA has a relatively high registration rate.
There are just over 4 million Democrats registered in Pennsylvania, and 3.2 million Republicans, compared to 103,000 Democrats and 167,000 Republicans registered in Lancaster County. Surprisingly, both parties lost registered voters between 2016 and 2017, six thousand and seven thousand respectively.
480,000 voter registrations were “cancelled” in 2017 due to being placed in the “inactive” category through the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). According to the The Administration of Voter Registration in Pennsylvania (AVRP), the SURE system tracks the “removal of deceased voters and voters who have confirmed that they moved outside of the county in which they were registered.”
Although this system is useful in removing deceased voters, that reason makes up a relatively small percentage of those removed. Last year, the SURE system removed 93,000 active voters because they had died. The remaining registrations were cancelled mainly due to moving within the county and failing to respond to a change of address notice from their county.
A voter’s registration is marked “inactive” when they are “sent a mailing by the county asking the voter to confirm his or her continued residence, and fails to respond,” according to AVRP. After being marked inactive, there are a few different reasons a registration will be cancelled. The biggest reason they are removed is not confirming their address after two federal election cycles. This made up 232,000 of the cancellations in 2017.
Voters who have participated in 50 consecutive November elections are admitted into the “The Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame.” The AVRP said in their annual report that there are 22,554 current members of the hall of fame, and that 122 citizens from nine counties were added in 2017. A display is placed on the third floor of the North Office Building in Harrisburg to show recognition of these citizens. The AVRP says that the “inductees serve as ambassadors in their communities – they lead by example, encouraging participation in the electoral process.”