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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voters of a certain age

In the West Chester region on Tuesday, old people voted, and young people didn't. Republicans voted, and Democrats didn't. Observe:

Hershey's Mill is a large, age-restricted community in East Goshen Township. Residents of this community vote at two precincts, East Goshen Five and East Goshen Eight.

On Tuesday, turnout at these two precincts was 49 percent. Of the 2,346 registered voters, 1288 came to the polls. Republicans outperformed Democrats in both precincts by about 2.5 to 1.

West Chester Borough is loaded with college students and young professionals and has a strong Democratic majority. Average turnout across the borough was less than 20 percent. Here's a breakdown:

WC's young voters: In the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth precincts, where many students and young professionals live, turnout was 12 percent. Of the 6865 registered voters in these precincts, 828 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 2 to 1.

WC's minority and low-income voters: In the Second Precinct, where many of the minority and low-income voters live, turnout was 10 percent. Of the 1,549 registered voters, 150 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 3.5 to 1.

WC's older, more affluent voters: The borough's First and Seventh precincts contain the bigger houses, where many settled, financially well-off adults and senior citizens live. Voter turnout was 22 percent. Of the 3,323 registered voters, 729 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 2 to 1.

To put a finer point on it, Hershey's Mill has 2645 registered voters, 1288 of whom came to the polls. West Chester Borough has 11,737 registered voters, 1,707 of whom came to the polls.

If the Democratic West Chester Area School Board candidates performed worse than expected, young West Chester Borough voters are to blame.

Perhaps the borough's Democrats are too new to this whole voting thing. Perhaps they are too young. Perhaps they exhibit the existential ADD brought on by too much exposure to Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, Blackberries, iPhones and Google News. Perhaps they'll only come to the polls if an exciting presidential candidate uses this ADD-inducing media to disseminate to them vaguely optimistic catchphrases.

My concern here - my motive for writing this post - is not partisan. I am really, really angry that people my age don't vote. I want healthcare reform, and I don't care whether it comes through a government-run program or through more effective competition in the private marketplace. I want a decent, affordable policy I can take with me from job to job - I believe that, like auto insurance, health insurance should be mandatory and should not be an employee benefit. Many people my age feel this way. Yet we don't vote. The legislators, therefore, don't care how we feel. They care how the Hershey's Mill voters feel. The Hershey's Mill voters vote in every election, and the Hershey's Mill voters, most of whom already have "socialized medicine" (it's called Medicare), will use whatever twisted logic they can to keep their Medicare intact. Basically, they don't want socialized medicine for young people. And the Democratic majority in Washington doesn't want to try increasing competition in the private healthcare marketplace. Legislators, lacking enough support among the electorate (read: seniors) for Medicare-for-all-ages, and lacking enough support among their own ranks for a private healthcare solution, will come up with some muddled thing or another that does nothing for people my age.

I feel like I'm yelling at a pickett fence. I do not want to hear anyone with Medicare complain about "socialized medicine." Unless, of course, they give up their medicare and join me on the private healthcare market.

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