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Turnout for Berks election on par with the past

Just over a quarter of registered Berks County voters took part in Tuesday’s municipal election, putting it on par with similar contests over the past decade.

According to county officials Wednesday, turnout was just about 28%. That number may still change a bit, as the county still has some mail and provisional ballots left to count.

The 28% turnout is fairly similar to the past few municipal elections. Looking at the last five, turnout numbers were:

  • 2019 — 30%
  • 2017 — 27%
  • 2015 — 26%
  • 2013 — 21%
  • 2011 — 23%

County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt, who serves as chairman of the county’s election board, said Tuesday’s turnout was about what he expected it would be. He added that the city saw particularly low numbers — turnout was about 9.5% in Reading — which drug down the county’s overall number.

“What’s most disheartening to me is that turnout in Reading was just around 9%, which skews the numbers,” he said. “The city doesn’t come out.”

A countywide race for coroner and a single city council race were the only contested races on the ballot in the city.

Barnhardt said that low turnout in the city meant Republicans cast ballots at a much higher rate than Democrats.

“From a political standpoint that doesn’t bode well for Democratic office holders,” he said, adding that he thinks that’s likely why Republican John Fielding was able to win the race for coroner.

Barnhardt said that with Fielding’s win, the only Democrats holding county offices are himself and District Attorney John T. Adams.

As for what method voters used to cast ballots, county officials say that based on the votes that were counted by the end of the day Wednesday, 58,796 voted in-person while 14,924 voted by mail.

Barnhardt said that he had hoped the introduction of vote by mail in 2020 would boost overall turnout numbers, but so far that hasn’t happened in Berks.

“Our numbers didn’t go up 5% or anything,” he said. “They didn’t go anywhere.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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