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70 percent turnout expected in Franklin County

November 04, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It's all over but the voting in Campaign 2008, and that final poll begins this morning in Franklin County, where County Commissioner Bob Thomas said he expects more than 70 percent of the 88,787 registered voters to cast ballots.

"I think we're going to see similar numbers to what we saw four years ago ... in the low 70s," Thomas said Monday.

The turnout was 72 percent in 2004, according to county records.

Thomas based his prediction on the 3,647 absentee ballot applications received before last week's deadline, an increase of only 71 from the 2004 election.

The 75 precincts in the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Although Democrats cut into the GOP edge some in the past year, Republicans still outnumber Democrats 50,047 to 27,739, with 11,001 people registered as independents or with smaller political parties.

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The Election Board has prepared for the possibility of a very high turnout, Thomas said.

"We've made every effort to have shorter lines," he said. That includes extra polling booths at some of the larger precincts, along with splitting some poll books so that election workers can check the registration of more than one voter at a time.

More clerks have been assigned to polls where they have been requested, Thomas said.

The county also recently split its largest precinct in two. Southampton-Mount Rock, which had more than 3,200 voters in the April presidential primary, has been split into the Mount Rock and Southampton-East District precincts.

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are not the only presidential candidates voters have to choose from in Pennsylvania. Former Green Party nominee and consumer advocate Ralph Nader is back on the ballot as an independent, and former U.S. representative from Georgia Bob Barr is the Libertarian candidate.

In 2004, Nader remained on the ballot until he was thrown off by a court challenge. Franklin County's ballots already were printed, so county employees armed with felt-tipped markers had to cross Nader's name off of about 80,000 ballots.

For the second time, Democrat Tony Barr, 39, of Claysburg, Pa., will try to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, 47, of Hollidaysburg, Pa. Nominated as a write-in in 2006, Barr won an unopposed bid for the Democratic nomination in April.

Shuster is running for his fifth term, having succeeded his father, Bud Shuster, who retired in 2001.

After 10 years in the Pennsylvania House and 20 in the state Senate, Sen. Terry Punt is retiring from his 33rd District seat. Former Magisterial District Judge Richard Alloway II, 40, of Chambersburg won a four-way race for the Republican nomination to succeed Punt and is up against Democrat Bruce Tushingham, a 70-year-old retiree who won his party's nomination as a write-in candidate.

The 33rd District includes Franklin and Adams counties and a portion of York County.

Franklin County's four state representatives - Mark K. Keller, R-86th; Rob Kauffman, R-89th; Todd Rock, R-90th; and Dan Moul, R-91st - have a clear path to re-election with no Democratic opponents.

Republican incumbent Attorney General Tom Corbett is running for re-election against Democrat John M. Morganelli, the Northampton County district attorney, and Libertarian Marakay J. Rogers.

Auditor General Jack Wagner is running for another term against Republican Chet Beiler and Libertarian Betsy Summers. Democrat Robert McCord, Republican Tom Ellis and Libertarian Berlie Etzel all are running for state treasurer.

The last item on the ballot is a referendum asking voters whether the state should borrow $400 million for grants and loans to municipalities and public utilities for the "acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion, extension repair or rehabilitation" of water systems, storm water and wastewater treatment plants.

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