In spite of being an off-year election, excitement is brewing in Carbon County particularly in the Pennsylvania House contest to succeed long-term Representative and House Speaker Keith McCall.

As a result of shifts in population, the surrounding counties of Luzerne and Schuylkill saw declines in the number of registered voters since the 2009 election each numbering several thousand. Carbon County, meanwhile, had an estimated increase in population of those over 18 years old of 571, and an even higher increase of registered voters of 922.

Carbon County Election director Lisa Dart feels that the turnout for the 2010 Election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, may exceed 50 percent, which is unusually high for an off-year election.

Registration for the 2010 election closed on Monday, Oct. 4. What can we learn from the registration results?

There are 38,398 voters registered in Carbon County. That's an increase of 922 (2.46 percent) from the 2009 election and an increase of 522 (1.38 percent) from the number of voters registered for the May 2010 primary elections.

This is more than double the estimated one percent annual population increase in the county and is a positive sign of both voter interest and the get-out-the vote work of the Carbon County Bureau of Elections, and the Democratic, Republican and other parties.

The breakdown of registered voters for the 2010 election is: Democrats: 19,373 (50.45 percent), Republicans: 14,181 (36.93 percent), and Independent/other parties: 4,844 (12.62 percent).

Since the 2009 election, the increase for each party is: Democrats: 382 (a 2.01 percent increase), Republicans: 313 (a 2.26 percent increase), and Independent/other parties: 227 (a 4.92 percent increase).

In the months since the 2010 Primary, the increase for each party is: Democrats: 206 (a 1.07 percent increase), Republicans: 183 (a 1.31 percent increase), and Independent/other parties: 133 (a 2.82 percent increase).

These figures indicate that the Democratic party has significantly more voters than the Republican Party, slightly more than the total of voters registered as Republicans and Independent/other parties combined.

Not only do the Democrats have the higher number of registered voters, they also have the higher number of new voters.

Although the Democrats dominate in total numbers, a factor that is essential to winning elections, there are signs that the Republicans and Independent/other parties are gaining ground.

When new registrations are looked at as a percentage of those already registered, the results show a somewhat different trend.

In the months since the 2010 Primary, the increase for each party is Democrats: 1.07 percent, Republicans: 1.31 percent, and Independent/other parties: 2.82 percent. In the year since the 2009 election, the increase for each party is: Democrats: 2.01 percent, Republicans: 2.26 percent, and Independent/other parties: 4.92 percent.

Although the number of Independent/other parties registered voters is small (4,844), they are growing faster than either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

Carbon County has 38,398 registered voters in a population of those over-18 years old of 57,475.

The Election outcome is based on those who vote on Election Day and those who submit absentee ballots. The Carbon County Election Bureau expects about 500 absentee ballots to be submitted.

Absentee ballot applications, which must be submitted by Oct. 26, can be obtained in person at the following: Carbon County Bureau of Elections, 76 Susquehanna St., Jim Thorpe, PA 18229; (570) 325-4801; E-mail: lisadart@carboncounty.net; from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.; online at: http://www.carboncountymagazine.com/CarbonCountyMagazine/2010/2010-11/El....

They are also available at the Democratic Headquarters: Carbon County Democratic Election Center, 101 N. First St., Lehighton, PA 18235; (610) 377-0235; or at Republican Headquarters: 198 S. First St., Lehighton, PA 18235; (570) 656-1721