Voters are switching party affiliation in Pennsylvania at a rate not seen in years, if ever, as their chance to cast ballots in a competitive presidential primary election approaches. The latest statistics this week from Pennsylvania’s elections bureau show about 245,000 registered voters have switched this year, or 3 percent of the state’s 8.2 million registered voters. This is the first year voter registration in the state can be done online, making it easier than getting the paperwork, filling it out and submitting it. But many of those switching parties reported wanting to vote in Pennsylvania’s April 26 primary, and the switching accelerated in the weeks before Monday’s deadline to register to vote or change registration. In Pennsylvania, closed primaries are open only to the party’s registered voters and, historically, races tend to be settled by the time the state’s relatively late primary election date arrives. This year, contested primaries, particularly the closely contested Republican race, are driving up voter interest.
Among those making a switch, about half became Republicans, according to state statistics as of Monday. One-third became Democrats and the rest joined a minor party or registered as unaffiliated.
Complete state records on voter registration changes were not available Wednesday for comparison. But pollster and public affairs professor Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster said he believes the rate of party switching is a modern record in Pennsylvania. Still, Madonna said, it is hard to tell which presidential candidate the vote switching will benefit the most.
And the numbers do not signal whether voters are switching to vote for or against a certain presidential candidate in an election-year campaign that has brought out strong reactions for and against Republican front-runner Donald Trump. It has also spurred a surge in support for Democrat Bernie Sanders, although Hillary Clinton enters April with a big delegate lead and strong support among Democrats crucial to the nomination.
Full Article: Voter party switching sows primary intrigue in Pennsylvania.