Many switching to Democratic Party to vote in Pa. primary

March 25, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- About 200 registrations came in the mail, about 75 more came from registration drives by the Barack Obama campaign and at Greencastle-Antrim High School, and there was a steady stream of people through the Franklin County Voter Registration Office on Monday, the final day to register for the April 22 primary.

As the day began, the number of people who had switched to the Democratic Party was 784, with just 144 switching to the GOP. New registrations were about even with 500 Republicans and 496 Democrats, according to Voter Registration figures. However, those numbers did not include the mail and walk-in applications.

"Either they want to vote for a specific candidate or they want to vote against a specific candidate, which is kind of unusual," County Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said of those switching from Republican to Democrat. Most of the attention in the April 22 primary is focused on the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama race, but Byers said people making the switch will not have a say in some local Republican races.


Mary Wycko of St. Thomas, Pa., said she was voting against Hillary and Bill Clinton.

"I don't want him hanging over her shoulder in the White House," she said.

Robert L. Mong of Chambersburg said he switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party to vote in that primary, although he is undecided between Obama and Clinton. He is not sure how he'll vote in November.

Others are disaffected Republicans such as Teresa Napier of Chambersburg.

"I don't like my Republican choices," said Napier, who plans to vote for Obama. Unlike some Republicans, Napier said she will not switch back after the primary.

"On the Democratic side, there are no candidates for state Senate or for state House, but with all the publicity about the Democratic presidential primary, there are many voters who just go to the polls to vote for president," Byers said.

For independents, becoming a Democrat gives them a chance to cast a ballot in a meaningful presidential primary.

"I'm declaring so I can vote in the primary," said Larry Camp of Chambersburg. "I'm an independent for the moment," he said before becoming a Democrat.

Byers said more registrations will come through the mail in the next couple of days. Applications may be postmarked as late as Monday to be considered for the primary.

County Commissioner Bob Thomas said he expects a bigger surge later this year after both parties have selected their nominees.

"Historically, Republicans and Democrats get more energized for their candidates and there'll be more registration efforts" before the Oct. 6 deadline to register for the Nov. 4 general election, he said.

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