Voter turnout low in Pa. primary

May 21, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The words "slow," "trickle," and "very few" came to mind among election officials Tuesday describing turnout at the primary election that had only 21 percent of registered voters in Franklin County voting.

"It's been a long day," said Jim Davis, judge of elections for Waynesboro precinct 2-2, on Tuesday afternoon.

With just an hour left to go until the polls closed, Davis said only 90 people had voted at the precinct that day, averaging just one an hour for a few hours in the morning.

It picked up a little after 5 p.m., he said, when voters stopped in on their way home from work to cast their ballots.


"It's light, although it's better than the last primary," he said.

Last year's presidential primary election brought out only 16 percent of eligible voters, according to Jean Horst, administrative assistant in the county's election office in Chambersburg.

Only 12,233 voters turned out in Franklin County for the primary. There are 37,159 registered Republicans and 20,844 registered Democrats in the county.

Most election officials blamed poor turnout in this year's primary election on the few contested races.

Rather than compare from one year to the next, Horst said election officials look at voter turnout results from similar elections. A presidential election year, for example, usually brings out more people, she said. However, last year's number proved that theory wrong.

The last primary election similar to Tuesday's was the one in 1993, in which voter turnout reached 41 percent - 20 percent more than this year's.

In 1995, the county had 37 percent voter turnout and 1994 yielded 26 percent voter turnout, Horst said.

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