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Presidential primary likely to lure more Pa. voters to polls

April 20, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

By the numbers:

29

percent of registered voters in Franklin County cast ballots in the last presidential primary election

26,481

Democrats registered in Franklin County, with 2,097 of those from party changes or new registrations

48,919

Republicans registered in Franklin County

8.3

million, the number of voters in Pennsylvania

Sources: Franklin County Voter Registration office, Pennsylvania Department of State

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WAYNESBORO, PA.

Higher-than-normal turnout is expected across Pennsylvania during Tuesday's primary election, due in large part to the closely watched presidential primary pitting Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama.

Franklin and Adams counties have their own hotly contested race -- to fill the 33rd District, Pennsylvania Senate seat held by Terry Punt for 20 years.

Punt, a Republican from Waynesboro, announced in January that he would retire after 20 years in the Senate and 10 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.

Two of Franklin County's 74 polling places have been changed for the upcoming primary, according to the County Election Board.

In Hamilton Township 1, the polling place moved from the National Guard building at 1010 Lincoln Way East to the West Side Brethren in Christ Church Fellowship Hall, 2665 Lincoln Way West. The Concord District polling place in Fannett Township changed from the Grange Hall to the Upper Path Valley Ruritan Club, 21101 Path Valley Road in Dry Run, Pa.

The county's 48,919 registered Republicans and 26,481 Democrats can vote in Tuesday's primary. Because the state has a closed primary system, the 10,232 people registered as Independents or as members of other parties will not be eligible to cast ballots.

Since the beginning of the year, 1,251 people have switched from the Republican Party or nonaffiliated status to become registered Democrats. By contrast, 164 voters switched to the GOP, according to Franklin County Voter Registration Office statistics.

The Pennsylvania Department of State has reported that the final tally of registered voters -- 8,328,123 -- sets a record among primary elections. It falls 38,540 voters short of the record-setting 2004 general election.

"It is unprecedented for a primary election in Pennsylvania, and it is very exciting to see so many people want to participate in the electoral process," Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes said in a news release.

Republicans in Franklin County usually enjoy a healthy edge in new registrations, as well, but the Democrats attracted 846 new voters, compared to 699 for the GOP.

Statewide, the number of newly registered Democrats led the new Republicans almost 3-1.

Although Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul remain on the GOP presidential primary ballot, that race was mathematically sewn up by Sen. John McCain weeks ago. Still, Republicans have some choices to make for state offices.

Jim Taylor, Rich Alloway, Cathy Cresswell and Bob Curley are on the GOP ballot for the state Senate seat now held by Punt. No Democrats will be on the ballot, although Bruce Tushingham of New Oxford, Pa., is staging a write-in campaign, as is Curley, who has said he wants to switch parties before the general election.

The 33rd District encompasses all of Franklin and Adams counties, and the western portion of York County.

State Rep. Mark Keller faces a primary challenge in his bid for a third term from Michael Lapp. Both men are from Perry County. The 86th District includes Fannett, Metal and St. Thomas townships in Franklin County, as well as portions of Peters and Hamilton townships.

No Democrats filed to run in the primary for the 86th District seat.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman in the 89th District and Rep. Todd Rock in the 90th face no primary challengers, and no Democrats are on the ballot.

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