This should slightly help Republican candidates for governor, U.S. senator, and other offices Nov. 2. But drops in voter enrollment hardly bespeak broad public interest in the election. As of last Monday, overall registration, which includes independents and third-party voters, was down 302,000, with no signs of any last-minute surge.
The drop comes despite polls that suggest widespread voter anger and disgust with politicians. A recent Franklin and Marshall College survey found that only about one-third of Pennsylvanians approve of the job either Obama or Gov. Rendell is doing.
"We thought we'd be real busy in this election," said Joseph Passarella, director of voter services for Montgomery County. "It has not been that way."
Voter disenchantment might have produced more apathy than passion among the electorate this year.
But analysts cite another, bigger reason for the lack of new voter registrations: Most people who care at all about politics were already signed up as a result of the massive enrollment drives conducted by both major parties for the 2008 presidential vote.
The same is true, generally, across the country.
"I can see people saying, 'People are so angry. Why aren't they registering to vote?' " said Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "But people are already registered."
Sabato said registration doldrums were typical of midterm elections. It portends an election in which casual voters might stay home, leaving races to be decided by the base voters in each party.
And, right now, the greater passion appears to be among the GOP stalwarts.
"It's pretty obvious which party is doing a better job right now - and probably on Nov. 2," Sabato said.
Leslie Amoros, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said Friday that new registrations have been coming in very slowly for weeks. She did not expect much change in the final days for new sign-ups.
New registrations must be postmarked or turned in at county offices by the deadline. Forms are available on the website votesPA.com.
Final numbers may be lower in places because of efforts made by officials in each of the 67 counties to strip the rolls of people who have died or moved away.
Voter agencies use driver's-license files and Social Security files, among other sources, to track the eligibility of people who have not voted in two consecutive federal elections. Letters of notification must go out before anyone's name can be removed.
In November 2008, Pennsylvania had 8.75 million registered voters. The number as of last Monday was 8.45 million.
The number of Democrats was down 3.9 percent from 2008, and the number of Republicans had fallen slightly less than 3.7 percent.
One-third of all voters - 33 percent - live in the five-county Philadelphia region. That percentage for the region is unchanged from 2008.
But there has been a slight shift from city to suburbs.
City voters made up 12.9 percent of all registrants in 2008. Now, that has dropped to 12.5 percent.
Voters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties accounted for 20.1 percent in 2008. Now, that's up to 20.5 percent.
Across the state, Democratic enrollment is down or essentially flat in all but a handful of counties. The nearly complete totals showed it rising only in Chester County - by about 2,500 voters - and in Huntingdon, Lebanon, and Pike Counties.
Republican registration was also down or almost flat in all but a few places. It was up slightly in Erie, Northumberland, Pike, Washington, Fayette, and Lebanon Counties.
Along with candidates, some civic organizations have made efforts to enroll new voters.
Among them is PennPIRG, the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, which placed a sign-up volunteer one day last week at the Community College of Philadelphia.
"We're looking for talented young people who care about social change," said Vanessa Wright, 24, a field organizer. "We want to make sure politicians know student votes matter."
Voter Registration Deadline
Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 election. Pennsylvanians 18 or older may turn in a form at their county voter office or by mail. Mail registrations must be postmarked by Monday. Enrollment forms are available at votespa.com.
Contact staff writer Tom Infield
at 610-313-8205 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writer Luke Harold contributed to this article.