The size of a political party and its voter turnout are two vastly different things, according to John Mussare, chairman of the Lycoming County Democratic Committee.
"Voter turnout is crucial," he said Sunday at the committee's annual Democratic picnic held in Memorial Park.
Mussare urged everyone to vote in November's general election - and to vote for Democrats, specifically.
This was the scene Sunday at the Democratic picnic hosted by the Lycoming County Democratic Committee. The event included food and drinks and a voter registration table. Local candidates spoke to those in attendance about current issues and urged them to vote in November.
"Voting is like driving: if you want the country to go backward, shift to R, for Republican," he said.
Mussare was happy with Sunday's turnout. About an hour into the event that included food, drinks and desserts, as well as a voter registration table, 15 people had registered to vote.
"Our party is growing," he said, adding that last year's picnic was the first one open to the public, a conscious effort to reach as many voters as possible. "I want to get all the voices I can muster, but there's a lot of apathy in voting."
That attitude was echoed by Kristen Hayes, a Democrat from Jersey Shore running against state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, for the 84th Legislative District.
Hayes told those in attendance that she often meets people who have lost faith in the voting process.
"The thing that I'm hearing most is, 'Our voices don't matter. Why bother? Nothing ever changes,' " Hayes said. "But I'm here to tell you that your voices do matter. We matter."
Hayes' own disillusionment with ineffectual government motivated her to run for office to try and fix problems with long term solutions, "versus just patching pot holes, which PA is famous for doing, both in government and on our roads."
She told fellow Democrats, Independents and friends of the party to vote for the best candidate and not a party.
"That's how we can make a difference," she said.
Scott Brion agreed. Brion, of Liberty, is running against U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, for the 10th Congressional District.
"Too many members in Congress see every issue as 'Is this good for the party or bad?' " he said. "We deserve leaders in Congress that work for us and not ones that work for a party, and certainly not the Republican party."
"Don't look at a party - look at the issue," said state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, who is running for re-election.