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Heavy voter turnout for primary in Franklin and Fulton counties

April 23, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH and KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania with an estimated 55 percent of the vote statewide, but her lead was stronger in Franklin and Fulton counties, where the New York senator won 57 percent and 68 percent of the Democratic vote in the counties, respectively.

Clinton led with 7,877 votes over Barack Obama's 5,455 cast by Democratic voters in Franklin County, according to complete, but unofficial election results.

With all 13 precincts reporting unofficial results in Fulton County, Clinton led with 961 votes compared to Obama's 452 on the Democratic side.

The race between Clinton and Obama has been unprecedented in many ways, not the least of which being the number of Democrats it got out to the polls in southcentral Pennsylvania.

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In Franklin County, 13,802 Democratic voters turned out from among the 26,481 registered. Fulton County had 1,519 of its 3,452 registered Democrats hit the polls on Tuesday.

Overall turnout in Fulton County was 2,907 of the 8,874 voters registered either Republican or Democrat. In Franklin County, 30,228 voters hit the polls out of the 75,400 registered with the two major parties.

In Franklin County's Waynesboro 1-1, the polling place at borough hall, 112 Democrats had voted by 3:45 p.m., compared to 68 Republicans.

"This is primarily a Republican area," said Jack Duffey, a Waynesboro 1-1 poll worker.

Franklin County Republicans cast 11,129 votes for John McCain. They cast 2,429 votes for Mike Huckabee and 1,702 for Ron Paul.

Fulton County Republicans cast 917 votes for McCain, 273 for Huckabee and 99 for Paul, according to unofficial election results.

Elva Pentz, elections judge for Waynesboro 3-2, expressed surprise that 25 more Democrats than Republicans had voted as of 2:30 p.m.

"I've been here a long time, and it's never happened that I remember," Pentz said.

Since the beginning of the year, 1,251 people in Franklin County have switched from the Republican Party or nonaffiliated status to become registered Democrats. Almost 850 new voters registered as Democrats.

Among them were Debra Gonzalez and her daughter, Natalia Torres-Gonzalez, in Washington Township. Mom switched her registration to Democrat, while 18-year-old Natalia was voting for the first time.

Both wore Obama '08 pins to the polls.

"He has shown integrity, and he's wanting to work for the people," Debra Gonzalez said.

"To me, that's what I want in a candidate," Torres-Gonzalez said.

John Bryner, of Chambersburg, said he felt he had a viable candidate on the ballot this year.

"I voted for Obama because I think we need a president who will look at the world differently than we have looked at it before," he said. "Obama has the follow-through to do just that."

Bryner and his wife, Peg, frequently go to the polls together because the couple said they believe it is one of the most important things an American can do.

"Nothing would stop us from being here, except maybe tornadoes," John Bryner said.

Peg Bryner said she also cast a ballot for Obama, which she called a ballot for change.

"For too many years it has been the same policies or just slightly different policies coming out of our government," she said. "I want a president that has the vision to change those policies."

Jeff Pittman, of McConnellsburg, Pa., has been a Democrat all his life.

"I voted for Hillary because I think she'll do a good job. We need a change," Pittman said, noting that health care, immigration and the war on terrorism are important to him.

Jim and Janet Lukic, of Chambersburg, voted together at their school district's administration building, although the couple is split in party affiliations. Jim Lukic is a registered Republican; Janet Lukic is a registered Democrat.

"Many want to vote, but they are registered Independent and can't participate in the (Pennsylvania) primary," Janet Lukic lamented.

"The voting should be open and the candidates put together on one ballot like we do in the general election. It is important for everyone to vote because we (collectively) are the voice of this country," she said.

Staff Writer Kate S. Alexander contributed to this story.

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