Less than a quarter of registered Lehigh Valley Democrats, Republicans voted in 2023 primary
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Just over 86,000 people across the Lehigh Valley voted in the 2023 primary election, according to unofficial Lehigh and Northampton counties election results.
That means less than a quarter — 23.2% — of all Democrats and Republicans across the region exercised their rights to determine whose campaigns will continue through November.
- Unofficial results show 23.2% of registered Democrats and Republicans in the Lehigh Valley voted during the 2023 municipal primary
- Northampton County posted a slightly better voter-turnout rate than Lehigh County, according to unofficial results
- More than 100 people not registered to either major party also cast ballots to weigh in on a referendum question in Whitehall Township
Tuesday’s primary all but decided who will take office in some races, including Allentown City Council, where Democratic nominees will face little to no opposition in November.
Unofficial summary results released Friday by Lehigh County show overall voter turnout was 22.53%, with Republicans voting at a slightly higher rate than Democrats — 23.34% to 22.44%.
Democrats in both counties utilized mail-in voting at higher rates than Republicans.Unofficial election results from Lehigh and Northampton counties
Northampton County’s unofficial results put voter turnout during the 2023 primary at 19.17%, but that takes into account almost 42,000 registered voters who are not Democrats nor Republicans and could not cast ballots.
Voter turnout in Northampton County was 23.74% when counting only the two major parties who staged primaries, according to state and county data.
Republicans show up at the polls
Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of State show more than 370,000 voters were registered to the two major parties in Lehigh and Northampton counties in time to vote in the 2023 primary.
Democrats hold a large voter registration edge in Lehigh County, with almost 112,000 voters compared to about 83,000 Republicans, according to the state.
The gap between the two major parties is smaller in Northampton County, where Democrats boast about 96,000 voters and Republicans have just under 80,000, state statistics show.
Democrats in both counties used mail-in voting at higher rates than Republicans.
About 55% of Northampton County Democrats and almost half of Lehigh County Democrats who cast ballots voted by mail during the primary, according to unofficial results.
Meanwhile, 80% of Republicans in Lehigh County and 78% of Northampton County Republicans voted at the polls Tuesday, the counties’ statistics show.
Turnout drive by heated DA race
Democrats in Northampton County posted the highest voter turnout in the region at 25.87%.
That’s about 2.5 percentage points higher than during the 2021 municipal Democratic primary and more than 10 percentage points higher than four years ago, according to the county’s statistics.
Almost 25,000 people voted in the 2023 Democratic primary in Northampton County, according to unofficial results.
Many were likely energized by a high-profile, heated race for Northampton County district attorney, in which challenger Stephen Baratta knocked off incumbent Terry Houck.
But more than 1,000 Democrats who cast ballots Tuesday left bubbles blank for the DA’s race, according to the county figures. Many also appear to have opted against voting in judicial races on Northampton County Democratic primary ballots.
Unofficial results show 23,761 Democrats in Northampton County voted for district attorney; 23,075 voted for county judge; 22,202 voted for state Supreme Court justice; and 21,244 voted for Commonwealth Court judge.
About 21.2% of registered Northampton County Republicans — just under 17,000 — cast votes during this year’s primary, according to unofficial results.
The countywide race between Nancy Aaroe and Brian Panella for county judge drew 15,688 Republican votes.
But statewide judicial races, which were among the highest-profile races on GOP ballots, garnered less interest from Northampton County Republican primary voters.
Fourteen percent of Republican voters chose no candidate for Supreme Court justice, while 18% — more than 3,000 voters — left bubbles blank in the race for Commonwealth Court judge, county statistics show.
Republican turnout in the Pennsville district of Lehigh Township was more than double the countywide average. There, 43.7% of GOP voters mailed in or filled out their ballots at their polling place, Hope Lutheran Church in Cherryville, according to the county.
The top 10 precincts for voter turnout during the 2023 Republican primary included five in Upper Mount Bethel Township and four in Lower Saucon Township, where a crowded race for Saucon Valley School Board likely boosted voter participation.
Bethlehem and Easton precincts made up the bottom 12 for Republican primary turnout, the county’s data show.
Lehigh County Republicans outvoted their counterparts in Northampton County, posting a voter turnout of 23.34%, according to unofficial results released Friday.
That was also better than Lehigh County Democrats, who had a voter-turnout rate of 22.44%, the county’s data show.
Four-fifths of Lehigh County Republicans who voted in the primary — about 15,700 — went to the polls Tuesday across Lehigh County, while 3,628 voted by mail; 156 voters cast provisional ballots.
More than 100 people not registered to either major party also cast ballots during the 2023 primary to weigh in on a referendum question in Whitehall Township.
Voters appear to have rejected the referendum, which asked whether the township should amend its charter to eliminate its elected treasurer position and replace it with an appointed finance director.
Lowhill Township residents posted the highest voter turnout rate in Lehigh County at 39.32%. That was just better than in Upper Saucon Township’s 1st District, where the rate was 39.27%, according to unofficial results.
Three precincts in Upper Saucon Township and two in Lower Macungie Township were among the top 10 for voter turnout during the 2023 primary.
Several Allentown precincts had voter-turnout rates of more than 30%, but the city also had more than a dozen precincts where voter turnout was less than 10%, according to Lehigh County’s interactive map.