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Voter turnout higher than expected

November 06, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - More voters than expected showed up at the polls during Tuesday's general election, though officials still call the 34 percent turnout of registered voters in Franklin County disappointing.

"Of course it's bad, but it's more compared to what we were expecting," said Jean Horst, administrative assistant in the county's election office in Chambersburg.

At Gordy Elementary School on Miller Street, 273 registered voters for Chambersburg precinct 4-2 cast ballots Tuesday, up from just 97 who voted in the primary election, said Harold Leister, judge of elections.

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"It was pretty steady all day. There were very few times that there was nobody in there," Leister said.

The race for mayor in Chambersburg is probably what brought more people out, especially since precinct 4-2 is the "home precinct" for incumbent Mayor Robert Morris, Leister said.

Of the 64,695 registered voters in the county, 21,955 cast a ballot in the general election. That's up from 21 percent, or 12,233 voters, who turned out in Franklin County for the primary election in May.

There are 37,524 registered Republicans and 21,083 registered Democrats in the county.

The last general election similar to Tuesday's was the one in 1993, in which voter turnout reached 33 percent, according to figures in the county's voter registration office.

In 1996, a presidential election year, the county had 74 percent voter turnout.

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

But some areas posted higher-than-expected voter turnout figures like Chambersburg, where there was a contest for mayor; Greene and Washington townships, both of which had races for supervisor; and in the areas represented by Tuscarora and Waynesboro school districts.

St. Thomas Township voter turnout was also high - at 48.3 percent for the three districts - even though two candidates ran unopposed for two supervisor seats.

Once elected, the two candidates - David Ramer and Tim Sollenberger - said they would repeal the zoning ordinance that the current board of supervisors recently put into place despite opposition from residents.

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