Monday, May 24, 2021

Why is Turnout So Low in Bethlehem's South Side?

During last year's Presidential election, turnout was very high at most precincts. It was 75.68% in Northampton County and 74.67% in Lehigh County. But not everywhere. Turnout was abysmally poor in South Side Bethlehem, especially in Latino districts 4 and 5. Turnout there was 49.47% and 50.48%, respectively. Unfortunately, and despite early voting and the existence of no-excuse mail-in ballots  (MIB), that trend continues in South Bethlehem. 

According to unofficial tally in Northampton County, turnout in last week's municipal primary was 20.52%. In Bethlehem, turnout was highest in north side Precinct 6 (39.65%). But it was disheartening on the South Side. In Districts 4 and 5, where there was both a Mayoral contest and a disputed Magisterial District Judge race, only 7.87% and 7.73% of the registered voters exercised their franchise. In District 3, it was just 3.41%. 

Overall, south side turnout was about half what it is on the north side.

Without doubt, the advent of MIBs have enabled more people to  vote. Northampton County's 20.52% last week is markedly higher than the municipal primaries in 2017 (14.45%) and 2013 (14.50%). But the paucity of south side voters is troubling to those of us who believe in small "d" democracy. My uninformed opinion has always been that people who need to work two or three jobs have enough trouble putting food on the table than worry about who represents them. As a result, nobody does. 

What's your take?

South side turnout: 1N - 12.51%, 1S - 9.18%, 2 - 9.51%, 3 -3.41%, 4 - 7.87%, 5 - 7.73%, 16 - 10.39%, 17 - 6.52%.   

19 comments:

gsmith said...

trump/trumpism is killing democracy; some people don't trust the voting process, most people think it doesn't matter, apparently, or they just don't care, and some of it may be ignorance and lack of civics education about how important voting is in a democracy, so much so that foreign countries and wealthy americans are spending millions to prevent qualified voters from voting.

Anonymous said...

I vote for just don't care. It has nothing to do with "Trumpism". Voting turnout in that community has been abysmal for decades.

Anonymous said...

Having been born and lived in Bethlehem and now Allentown I would say that there is a very small percentage working 2 or 3 jobs to survive in Bethlehem's South side. Most working people fled from there a long time ago. Poor Education and lack of earning a living have left most people on the South Side apathetic about voting, even if it is in their own best interest.

Anonymous said...

Its South Bethlehem. All they do is complain but they never show up to vote!

Anonymous said...

gsmith,

Funny you complain about Trumpism yet it's your own hypocritical liberal party that doesn't teach American History ,how our gov't works or civics anymore. Look in the mirror buddy. Plenty of blame on your side as well. I wouldn't trust a system that no longer requires checks and balances in our elections. Nothing wrong with a secure voting process. Remember, plenty of the people that came to this country wanted to get away from voting fraud in their previous countries.

Anonymous said...

Funny how we just had the largest voter turnout during the Presidential election, hmm...... So much for your so called killing by Trumpism. Hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Look at past "southside" voting % numbers before MIB and Trump, and you will see that the numbers were always low. Didn't MIB's increase the overall turnout, when you add those mail in's with walk in votes?

C said...

Having grown up there I agree it is civics education not taught in Broughal Jr. High, Trump was not around back then. I will never forget a NCACC professor, Doug Heath, go on a twenty minute sidetrack from his class one day. He said less and less people were voting each year which meant a minority was now voting for the majority and this was in 1983. From that I gained a profound respect for my one vote.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Students - they only vote in presidential years.

Anonymous said...

Apathy. What was once a civic responsibility valued and taken seriously is now an after thought for most. Voting has become easier and easier, yet our society has become lazier and lazier, too.

Anonymous said...

Age is single most salient feature of primary voters. Followed by educational achievement. 6th ward is core of historic Bethlehem and has a lot of older voters. Older voters in south Bethlehem have died off while replacement voters are younger and less educated. Of course, Latin voters turned out in record numbers across the south side in 1991 when a Latina was making history as the first woman Latina to win the DJ post, the incomparable Justice Matos-Gonzalez.

Anonymous said...

Elections just like everything in America is rigged. This starting with The American Dream being a nightmare influenced by outside forces, than that brings us to voting also being influenced by outside forces of the open society borderless faction of the ruling class. Football, Baseball and last Wrestling, all the world is a carnival and the people will over eat the bread judging from the look of things in the city streets.

Anonymous said...

Wow...you sure know how to sling the bull.

Anonymous said...

12:47- If you believe our elections are fraudulent, then don't vote. I mean Dominion will change it anyway. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Give it ten years, people are buying up houses all over the Southside because it's the only place with affordable homes in the city. Once they get fixed up things will change because people want to protect the money they put into their home. Right now it's mostly rentals to the left of me and rentals to the right and the people who live in them don't give a damn.

Anonymous said...

Lot of darts being thrown around - some getting close to, but not quite racist, some stale talking points and even some valid points.

I would attribute it to lack of civic engagement which is a two way street, you get what you give and give what you get in politics. If the Southside was energetic and "got out the vote" you can damn well be sure that the various politicos in the area would be spending time there, listening and working with those voters to get involved and further build out and build up that community...

If the community shows they don't give a damn, then why would any politician waste literal time and money on a section of potential voters that are unlikely to provide any return on his/her investment?

I know that is a cynical view point, but until either the county GOP or DEM bosses invest in some long term grass root efforts there it will remain a political desert in the Lehigh Valley.

Anonymous said...

@7:39 - most likely VERY accurate. Just look at Brooklyn in the 80's and 90's versus what's there today. Different worlds.

Anonymous said...

You are right. You won't recognize the Southside in a few years. People want to live in cities around amenities, shops, stores and restaurants. The more government tries to curb height development the more valuable each piece of property becomes over there. Beat up homes are already going over the $200,000 range. The place needs to get cleaned up.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem is turning to shit!