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Franklin County voter turnout low for Pa. primary

April 24, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Karen Sodoma of Greencastle, Pa., shows her photo ID to Nancy Osbaugh at the Greencastle Church of the Brethren on South Carlisle Street while preparing to vote in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.
Photo by Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Tuesday’s voter turnout held true to predictions and was slow throughout Franklin County, which was something that Crystal Cosey of Chambersburg thought was shameful.

“I’m disgusted with the numbers. I just don’t think enough people participate in the elections,” Cosey said after leaving her polling place at Chambersburg Bible Church off Orchard Drive in Chambersburg.

Most of them are single-ballot options, but it’s just as important to vote in the primary to be prepared for the presidential election, she said.

She couldn’t believe that only 220 of 1,013 registered voters in her precinct had cast their votes between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“I think my expectations are always higher because I am in my mid-30s and I think that more people of my age need to take part. Whether you are involved in the government or not — this is a privilege that we have. I just think more people need to be involved,” Cosey said.

Election judge Bill Butts has presided over his Chambersburg precinct for the past 10 to 12 years and said the day was slow but not abnormal.

“It’s slow, but then our primaries usually don’t have big turnouts,” Butts said.

At First Baptist Church on South Coldbrook Avenue in Chambersburg, things were moving in slow motion as well.

“It’s been slow all day. But primaries are always slow,” said Esther Wagner, judge of election.

Primary or not, James Alexander of Chambersburg wasn’t going to miss a chance to vote.

“I’ve voted ever since I was 18 and I’ve not missed a poll yet,” Alexander said.

“I came out to voice my political opinion on the Republican candidates. Personally I am not a big Mitt Romney fan, and I wanted to take a vote away from him and put it toward Ron Paul,” he said.

For Pat McCormack of Chambersburg, not voting just wasn’t an option.

“This is a special privilege of this country and I refuse not to express my (right to vote),” she said. “I travel a lot and I’ve been in countries where you can’t vote, so no matter what, I’m going to vote.”

At noon, things were moving pretty slowly at Greencastle, Pa.’s second precinct at Greencastle Church of the Brethren on South Carlisle Street.

Election judge Myers Rockwell said voting was a bit slower than usual, but he was hopeful that things would pick up between 3 and 7 p.m.

“It’s the slowest it’s been in the four to five years I’ve been here,” he said.

Rockwell expects voters to turn out in large numbers for the November presidential election.

Ronald Sodoma and his wife, Karen, voted at the second precinct in Greencastle on Tuesday.

“I’ve voted since I was 18. It’s important to vote,” Ronald Sodoma said.

“People shouldn’t take their voting rights for granted. There’s nothing more important than getting out to vote,” he said.

“Some people get discouraged and think our votes don’t count, but our votes do count, and they should come out and vote,” Karen Sodoma said.

Margaret Pistner, of Greencastle, said she almost didn’t exercise her right to vote Tuesday but changed her mind.

“I think you need to express your opinion, and if we have that opportunity, then we need to take it whenever we can,” Pistner said.

At Greencastle Baptist Church, one of Antrim Township’s larger voting precincts, election judge Cheryl Thrush said voting was going along at a fairly normal pace.

“It’s really been steady. It’s been busier than I thought it would be,” Thrush said.

For Antrim Township resident Lee Scott, it was important that he exercise his right to vote in Tuesday’s primary.

As a supporter of write-in candidate Karen Ramsburg, Scott said he wanted to make sure Ramsburg gets on the November ballot in order to unseat U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster.

“It’s a good habit to always vote — being a good citizen. In this county, Republicans and the Democrats who have the huge incentive to not only challenge Shuster but also we have a candidate to write in to oppose Rock,” Scott said.

To secure a spot on the November ballot, a write-in candidate must secure at least the same number of write-in votes as they needed to sign their petition, according to county board of election officials.

Ramsburg, of Mercersburg, Pa., will need 1,000 write-in votes in order to challenge Shuster in the November election.

Write-in candidate and Greencastle resident Sheldon Schwartz will need 300 votes to challenge Rep. Todd Rock for the 90th House District in November.

James Taylor, of Mercersburg, will need a minimum of 500 votes in order to appear on the November ballot against state Sen. Richard Alloway.

Jean Byers, deputy chief clerk of Franklin County Board of Elections, said the county expected a low voter turnout based on two factors: a low rate of absentee ballot requests and a lack of phone calls prior to the election.

She said both are typically an indication that there are not as many people interested in voting.

“Our phones have been really, really quiet. That means that people aren’t calling to see if they are registered, they are not calling to see where their polling place is. So, that’s an indication to us that there is just not going to be that big of a turnout,” she said.

Byers said this year, the county had just more than 500 absentee ballot requests, compared to 1,000 for the presidential primary in 2008.

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