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Experts say controversial school issues may drive more voters to the polls

On average, municipal elections see 20% to 25% of voters, but experts say because of mask mandates and curriculum proposals, parents may want their voices heard.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — As election day nears, seats for school boards, state justices and mayor are up for grabs. However, as significant as these races may be, some experts say expect a low turnout.

"Turnout is low on an individual level because elections are harder. A lot of the elections on a local level don’t have partisanship associated with them. People are not running as democrats or republicans." said Sarah Niebler, a professor at Dickinson College.

Niebler said another reason people fail to show up at the polls is a combination of factors including an excessive number of races and many people are not knowledgeable of candidates because of limited coverage from national and local media outlets.

"There are a whole lot of races in [FOX 43's] area, so how do you cover races happening in Cumberland County, Dauphin, Adams, York?  All of those places, have multiple races going on. So even television news media has a difficult time covering everything." Niebler said.

However, with controversial issues like mask mandates and curriculum proposal changes, experts predict school board races could surprisingly drive more voters to the polls.

"So I think these races at one point were not particularly controversial or may not be engaging for a lot of people, this year could be more so which could drive turnout more just a little bit," Niebler said.

Political experts say for municipal elections in Pennsylvania,  voter turnout is usually in 20-25 percent  range while midterm is in the 40- 50 percent range and presidential often see a 60- 65 percent attendance at the polls.

Polls are open on election day from 7A.M to 8 P.M.

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