In Greene County, elections draw a variety of opinions from a wide range of voters, yet, some still choose not to participate in Election Day each November.
At Waynesburg University, students are encouraged to share their opinions through the different co-curricular clubs dedicated to political issues.
Dr. Lawrence Stratton, associate professor of ethics and constitutional law, believes the reason people young and old should participate in voting is right atop two of the most important United States documents.
“The first three words of the Constitution are ‘we the people,’ and it’s through voting that the people express their sovereignty,” Stratton said. “In the Declaration of Independence, it says that ‘the government are based upon the consent of the governed.’”
According to Stratton, elections in Greene County have always been historically close. In 2019, he experienced this firsthand when he was appointed to and then re-ran for a seat on the Waynesburg Borough Council. Stratton believes each race counts (local, state or national) and sustains its own importance.
“In many ways, the outcome of the Presidential race in Pennsylvania is really dependent upon voter turnout because of the intense passion of this election,” Stratton said. “It becomes a competition not only between the two candidates and parties, but between different regions of the Commonwealth.”
Judy Snyder, Greene County Director of Elections, believes youth voting is extremely impactful on both the local and national level.
“It is extremely important, they are the decision makers of our future,” Snyder said. “Educate yourself and do your research and do not rely on the media or other individuals for information.”
Stratton’s personal experience in overseeing and participating in elections led him to support the theory that each vote counts. Time and time again, Stratton said elections have finished with the candidates so close in individual votes.
“As the advisor of the student senate for eight years, I’ve seen differences in those outcomes by one or two votes at different points,” Stratton said. “I was on the Greene County election board for half a year and I remember in one of the primary races it came down to 10 votes for one of the county offices.”
According to Snyder, as of Oct. 7, there are 1,919 registered voters under the age of 25 in the county, but in the May 2020 primary election, just 371 voted. The voting turnout was just about 8.5% of all voters and 16.2% of voters under the age of 25.
Election Day is set for Nov. 3, but the deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania has passed. In order to vote by mail this year, the ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Snyder added she’s noticed an upswing in voter interest among the youth. Since the primary, the Greene County Elections Board has welcomed 255 new voters in the 18-25 age group.
Stratton notes that the act of voting has a long-term effect and should be thought of as a way for people to step up.
“When a person votes, even if his or her candidate loses, you have a sense, well at least I got my voice at the table to be considered,” Stratton said. “It’s good when people get together and create political associations to express their will and offer compromise with other people. All of which is healthy under the state of the community.”