(CNN) - With just days until the voter registration deadline arrives in Pennsylvania, voters are frantically registering and changing their party affiliations in order to vote in the state’s closed Democratic primary.
Pennsylvania, with 158 “pledged” delegates at stake, offers the largest bounty remaining to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It is expected to play a large role in deciding the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.
Barack Obama’s campaign has made voter registration their top priority in Pennsylvania for the past several weeks, sending teams of volunteers from across the country to register new Democrats in the commonwealth in advance of the March 24 deadline. “We need your help registering voters this weekend!” read a message on Barack Obama’s Web site, urging volunteers to spend the weekend convincing unregistered voters, Republicans and Independents to become newly-minted Democrats.
Between February 11 and March 17, Philadelphia County saw a 1.7 percent increase in Democratic Party registrations while all other parties – including the Republican Party – saw a 1.3 percent decrease in party registrations, according to Robert Lee, Voter Registration Administrator for Philadelphia County.
Since 2004, Democratic registration has increased by roughly 5 percent in the county - while Republican registration has decreased by more than 12 percent.
Patti Allen of the Montgomery County’s voter registration office described the situation in her county as “wild.” In the county, which includes many affluent suburbs of Philadelphia, 3,432 voters have changed their registration to the Democratic Party, since March 1, while just 149 voters have switched their affiliation to the Republican Party. The county has seen 1,243 new Democratic party registrations and 402 Republican party registrations since March 1. The county, despite it’s current wave of Democratic party registrations – more than 3-to-1 over Republican registrations – is still home to more Republicans than Democrats.
The Pennsylvania Department of State says that since January, more than 68,000 registered voters changed their party affiliation to either the Democratic or Republican party, and those who switched to the Democratic party out-number those who switched to the Republican party by a greater than 3-to-1 margin.
–CNN's Jeff Simon