Turnout varies at polling places across York County

Jana Benscoter

Following a controversial and high-profile 2016 presidential election season, Pennsylvania voters had another chance to weigh in — this time locally.

Candidates continued to court voters Tuesday morning — answering questions, touting their experience and handing out primary election information — outside polling places. Voter turnout historically is lower in municipal elections, which means every vote counts, they said.

The sentiment among the earliest arrivals was similar in that most felt it is their civic duty to vote. At Strinestown United Brethren Church in Conewago Township, residents expressed their concerns about local taxes. It was a popular location an hour after polls opened. Steady foot traffic continued — one car would replace the last, as one voter would leave, another voter would arrive.

Election Results - York County, Pennsylvania

A few miles down the road, the scene was different. At Alert Fire Co. on North George Street, Carole Martin's car was the only one in the parking lot. The 71-year-old said she's voted in every election since she was 21. When she was done voting, she exited the building saying, "it's empty in there."

"I just want to pick three judges," Martin explained. "It's a duty. I feel that you don't have a right to complain if you don't go vote."

Voting is very important, 59-year-old Julius Davis said. He said he takes his vote personally. His precinct is Grace Brethren Church of York.

"I came up in the '60s," he said. "So, back then, there was segregation going on, and we weren't allowed to vote. And, I make sure I make every primary vote, and spread (that) this is how things change for the better."

York mayoral candidate Michael Helfrich talks with Judy Ritter-Dickson supporter Anita Allen outside the Princess Street Center Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Helfrich planned to vote there. Bill Kalina photo

York College Professor Nicolas Anspach, 32, said he voted to set an example for younger generations.

"I teach political science up at the college, and I always tell my students to get out the vote even in these primary elections," Anspach said. "I figured, I better practice what I preach."

Evening voting: As the day wore on, the flow of voters into their polling places continued at a trickle.

No more than 15 people entered the polling place at the Princess Street Center over an hourlong period Tuesday evening.

Of those who went inside, at least a few walked back out without voting due to identification issues and being at the wrong polling place.

Katona Sutton, 38, was one of those who showed up at the wrong polling place.

Sutton said she was 90 percent sure of who she would vote for and said she would continue weighing the pros and cons of each candidate on her way to vote at the YMCA.

Julio Aguayo said he came to vote at the Princess Street Center to try to "improve the city."

Aguayo, 51, said he was drawn to the polls by the race for York City mayor, as well as the four-way race for York City Council.

Aguayo said he cast his vote for Michael Helfrich in the mayor's race, but he said he has nothing against York City Mayor Kim Bracey and believes she has done well during her eight years in office.

Local elections are just as important as presidential elections because local government impacts York City residents' lives every day, Aguayo said.

From street sweeping and snow plowing to property taxes and property maintenance, the decisions of local government have a daily impact of York City resident, Aguayo said.

"Most of the things that happen to our lives happen in local government," Aguayo said.