Election Official: Expect About 20 Percent Turnout From Both Parties

May 15, 2018

Republican and Democratic voters are heading to the polls today to select their champions for November's general election, and Mark Wolosik, who heads Allegheny County's elections department, is expecting light turnout for today's primary. 

"We're predicting about 20 percent on both sides -- 20 percent Democratic and 20 percent Republican registered voters," he says.

Wolosik acknowledges that's a "seat-of-the-pants guesstimate" based on previous elections and the number of contested races. Only Republican voters have a contested race at the top of the ballot: There is a three-way Republican primary fight to be the GOP's gubernatorial nominee against incumbent Tom Wolf.

Seeking that shot are attorney Laura Ellsworth, healthcare consultant Paul Mango and state Sen. Scott Wagner.

Republican voters also have a choice for U.S. Senate: Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta and Beaver County state Rep. Jim Christiana are fighting for the right to take on Democrat Bob Casey in November.

The primary will also decide nominees in races for lieutenant governor, the U.S. House and state legislative races. And a handful of communities have ballot questions for their voters to decide, as in the Chartiers Valley School District, which is deciding on whether to hike taxes to finance enhanced school security.

This is the first election to use a new congressional district map ordered by the state Supreme Court earlier this year, which observers say may confuse some voters. Parts of Allegheny County, for example, voted in a March 13 special election to replace Congressman Tim Murphy in the 18th Congressional District. But under the new lines, the special-election winner, Democrat Conor Lamb, is now in the 17th district, as are many South Hills voters who voted in March. The 18th District itself now includes Pittsburgh, home base of incumbent Democrat Mike Doyle. 

Voters confused about which district they live in can find a map at votespa.com

The last election Wolosik presided over -- the razor-thin Lamb vs. Rick Saccone special election  -- was marked by uncertainty. With the outcome still in doubt late into the evening, Wolosik himself had a star turn on CNN, explaining vote-counting procedures to a national audience. 

Is he expecting that kind of celebrity tonight?

"Ummmm, I hope not."

Polls close at 8 p.m. tonight.