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Voter registration and re-registration paints two-toned picture as election nears

In Butler County, more Democrats are re-registering as Republicans than the other way around, according to the latest figures from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

According to the data, as of Aug. 5, 605 Democrats have re-registered as Republicans while only 208 Republicans have shifted to Democrats in 2022.

Bill Halle, president of the newly formed Butler County Republican Committee, said the media has taken controversial topics and tried to create division among political lines, but he feels many people in Western Pennsylvania share core values that differ less than in other parts of the country.

He said there is a bigger force at play that is likely making people favor being Republicans when they enter the booths in November.

“The whole economic issue has been hard hitting on our area, and I think that drives a lot of what you see occurring,” said Halle. “People are very concerned for their future.“

Meanwhile, Catherine Lalonde, chairwoman of the county Democratic Party, said she doesn’t quite see defeat in those numbers, though she has her concerns. She noted that some Republicans have changed parties because they appreciate more sensible options.

“It goes both ways,“ Lalonde said.

”It’s not something you like to see. I think that people bought into the big lie of a stolen election,“ she said in reference to false election fraud claims about the 2020 presidential race.

Despite the lines being crossed, Democrats in Butler County have maintained their registration levels to some degree as new waves of residents beat the Oct. 24 deadline.

As of Aug. 1, Butler County’s 135,461 registered voters break down as follows: 76,714 Republican; 39,799 Democrats, 13,009 Independent and 5,939 other affiliations.

Since mid-July, the total has increased by 339, the Republicans by 185, the Democrats by 105, Independents by 52; meanwhile those registering as other affiliations has decreased by 3.

Lalone said despite the losses the additional new Democrats helps offset those changes and keep the county in-line with its overall ratio of Democrats to Republicans, which historically leans farther to the right.

“We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm at our booth,“ Lalonde said. ”In this election, there is a lot of publicity about it. It’s energizing a lot of Democrats because people really like Josh Shapiro and like John Fetterman.“

Halle said his side has renewed its focus on encouraging Republicans to register to vote, despite being the majority.

“It’s something the new committee tries to establish in the future as a primary focus,“ Halle said.

Halle said at the end of the day, he hopes everyone regardless of party will exercise their right to vote. He said a majority of people are less motivated to vote based solely on their party and are making their decisions personal and with care.

“I think we share core values as a community,” Halle said. “I think that’s going to win elections for people rather than whether you’re an R or a D.”

Lalonde said she too has seen more people interested in remaining unattached, and they are often registered as independents.

“A lot of younger people register as independent to start,” she said.

Lalonde said her primary goal is to continue to reach as many Democrats as possible and encourage them that their voice and vote matter, despite having less impact on local or regional races.

“We do have a decent effect statewide and nationwide elections,” she said. “Every vote adds up.“

Halle said beyond their registration efforts, he hopes Republicans will continue to evaluate their needs and the direction of today’s society in the context of their own values.

“People in my generation, we have always operated on the idea of giving our children better than we had,“ Halle said. ”People are very concerned about what is being taught to our children and the opportunities they’re gong to have in the future.“