In York County, no voting machine issues reported during special election

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, York County voters hadn't reported any issues with the county's new voting machines during the special election for the state's 48th Senate District seat.

This was the first election since the county introduced the machines in the Nov. 5, 2019, municipal election, when some voters waited in long lines and others had trouble figuring out how to use the machines.

Shelby Cunningham voted at the Springetts Apartments Community Room in Springettsbury Township.

She said Tuesday, Jan. 14, that she's confident the county has done the right thing with the new voting machines and that she didn't have any problems voting.

Peter Seiler exits Springettsbury Township Precinct 6 after casting his vote in the special election held to replace former state Senator Mike Folmer, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"It went fine after they told me what to do," Cunningham said of the poll workers who instructed her how to use the ballot scanning machine.

The 48th Senate District includes northeastern York County, a portion of Dauphin County and all of Lebanon County.

Former Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, resigned from the seat in September after being arrested and charged with possessing child pornography.

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Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold, a Republican, is running against Michael Schroeder, a Democrat and associate professor of history at Lebanon Valley College, for Folmer's seat.

Peter Seiler also voted at the Springetts Apartments precinct and said he didn't have to wait in line Tuesday to vote.

Seiler, who voted for Schroeder, said he didn't have any problems using the machines and that he's not worried about the county being able to handle the April 28 presidential primary.

A special election is held to replace former state Senator Mike Folmer, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A couple of miles away at Brunswick at Longstown, a senior living community in Springettsbury Township, the day started out slowly. Only 55 of the district's 2,776 voters had cast ballots as of 9:30 a.m.

Floann Fake, who voted with her husband, Glenn Fake, said local elections are where political involvement should start.

"If you don't start with your senator or your representative here in your own state, how else are you going to make a change," she said.

Fake declined to name who she voted for, but she did say she's a registered Democrat who is disillusioned with national party leaders' negativity and treatment of President Donald Trump.

Stacy Paxson, another voter at the Brunswick at Longstown, voted for Schroeder. She said she didn't have any issues with the voting machines and that she's not worried about the presidential primary.

A lack of voters was not limited to Springettsbury Township. Turnout appeared to be low throughout the day at county polling places. No official estimates were available as of  4 p.m. about overall turnout in the 19 York County precincts included within the 48th Senate district, county officials said. 

About 10:30 a.m. at Eagle Fire Co. in Mount Wolf, only 25 of 809 registered voters had cast ballots.

Judge of Elections Sandy Brenner said she expected a low turnout.

"We had three waiting when we opened the door, but then it was a pretty long wait for the next ones," she said.

Mount Wolf's polling place had the wrong-sized paper ballots in the Nov. 5 municipal election, Brenner said, which necessitated recounting those ballots by hand.

But on Tuesday, she said there weren't any issues with the machines or the paper ballots.

Diona Stubbs voted at Commonwealth Fire Co. No. 1 in Springettsbury Township. She said Tuesday afternoon it concerned her that more people weren't there to vote in a local election and that it didn't seem like many people were even aware there was an election going on.

Stubbs said the local elections are what matter most.

Signs display candidate names during a special election, held to replace former state Senator Mike Folmer, at Eagle Fire Co. No. 1 in Mount Wolf, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"Forget the federal level," she said. "This is where we need to make a difference."

Kevin Hevner, also of Springettsbury Township, said he didn't have any issues voting Tuesday, but he also said he's worried about whether his polling place will have enough scanners to handle the volume of people who are likely to vote in the presidential primary.

Hevner's greater concern, though, is about where he falls in the boundary of the 48th Senate District, he said.

The district is "incredibly odd and large," Hevner said, referring to the way the boundary line surrounds all of Lebanon County, then crosses the river to part of Dauphin County and moves south for a small portion of York County.

He said he's not sure either Schroeder or Arnold will be able to represent the interests of voters in every area of the district.

"I hope we get quality representation," Hevner said.

Polls were open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

More:York County GOP: New elections director needs to be fired

More:Special election Tuesday to fill former Sen. Folmer's seat