A dead even tie.
That’s the only way that describes the total number of active voters in two of the major political parties in Chautauqua County as of April 1.
Per state election law, county election boards must set its official enrollment totals by party on the first day of April. This year’s numbers came in at 26,057 registered Democrats and 26,057 registered Republicans. Since 2008, Democratic registrants outnumbered registered Republican voters in the county.
The latest numbers came as a shock to Brian Abram, Republican elections commissioner, who said many dynamics are involved, including additions through new registrants and subtractions from those who pass away.
“I was blown away. Who knows if it’ll ever hit like that again,” Abram said.
Republican enrollment totals have been inching close to those of Democrats for some time now. There were 27,374 enrolled Democratic voters in the county and 26,189 enrolled Republicans in April 2013, a difference of 1,185 between the two parties.
The gap closed through the years as 25,659 Democrats and 24,934 Republicans were enrolled in April 2016, bringing the difference to 725.
“I think the spike would be the Donald Trump factor in Chautauqua County,” Abram said regarding the recent enrollment total.
While the April 1 total came as surprise to Norman P. Green, Democratic elections commissioner, he said the numbers have been tightening up to one another.
“From the Civil War to 2008, the county was Republican,” Green said. “From 2008 to 2016 to March 2017, it was Democratic. Certainly it was a surprise to see them at dead even.”
Enrollment shows two of the county’s largest population centers maintaining a strong Democratic base. In the north county, the city of Dunkirk and Pomfret-Fredonia area has a larger Democratic contingent than Republicans. In the city of Dunkirk, there’s 3,408 Democrats enrolled compared to 1,227 Republicans. The town of Pomfret has 2,829 Democrats and 2,089 Republicans.
In the city of Jamestown, there are 5,917 Democratic voters enrolled compared to 3,828 Republicans.
As the two cities stay Democratic, a vast majority of rural towns remain Republican.
Total county voter registration stands at 77,628. A total of 18,124 are independent, or aren’t affiliated with any political party. A total of 1,904 are Conservative while 4,719 registrants are affiliated with the Independence Party. Other established voter enrollment totals detail 187 enrolled with the Green Party; 441 with the Working Families’ Party; 20 with the Women’s Equality Party; 28 with the Reform Party and 91 listed under other parties.
April 1 totals help those running for office know how many signatures they need to get on the ballot. Candidates must get 5 percent of signatures from the total number of registrants within their jurisdiction they would represent. Full registration totals with district-by-district breakdowns are available for viewing at www.votechautauqua.com.