Created: October 23, 2019 07:06 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If the number of people who have registered to vote, and registered with a party, in Monroe County is any indication of the results, there could be some upsets in local races.
"We could see a new county executive, we could see changes in the county legislature and possibly winning the majority. They need three seats I think to win the majority," Democratic Elections Commissioner, Colleen Anderson said.
In just four years the number of registered Democrats has dramatically outpaced the number of registered Republicans in Monroe County.
What's even more telling: It appears people have left the Republican party and become Democrats.
In 2015, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 44,000 voters. That gap has now widened to more than 65,000 voters.
The town of Pittsford has completely flipped in four years from Republican to Democratic.
Republican strongholds in Perinton and Penfield have evaporated. Both towns have nearly equal numbers of registered Republicans and Democrats.
"This has definitely been a trend that's been going on for the last few years." said political scientist Dr. Kathleen Donovan, PhD.
Donovan is an Associate Professor at St. John Fisher College and teaches political science and legal studies. We asked her to comment on what is happening. She says we can look to the presidential election of 2016 for some answers.
"There were lots of people who were not able to vote in those primaries that wanted to and they felt very frustrated," Donovan said. "The best example is Donald Trump's own children weren't able to vote for him because they didn't update their party registration in time. So I think a lot of people remember what happened in 2016 and they don't want it to happen again."
But Donovan says people have become more civically engaged, particularly millennials and gen-xers.
Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Napier says his party is paying close attention to these trends.
"It's one of those things the party is addressing," Napier said. "We have a new chairman at the state level. Part of his effort is to address registration and engagement with voters."
Donovan said data shows people are more engaged in other ways.
For example: The number of people who join protests is higher nationwide and she says more ordinary citizens ran for political office in 2018 and in many cases beat incumbents and seasoned politicians.
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