High primary turnout leads to lines at York County polls

Greg Gross
  • Nearly 40 percent of York County's possible voters went to the polls on Tuesday

Some voters had to wait in long lines at polling places Tuesday as York County saw higher-than-expected turnout for the primary election.

A line of voters stretches out to the parking lot of  the Fishing Creek Community Building in Fairview Township around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Photo by Greg Gross.

The election day edge nearly hit the 40 percent mark as 108,596 voters out of 278,893 possible voters cast ballots, according to the York County elections office. That's more than the 2008 and 2012 presidential primaries.

"It was higher than I thought it would be," said Nikki Suchanic, head of the office, who expected Election Day turnout to reach 35 percent.

No major issues were reported at polling places, apart from some voters confused about Pennsylvania's closed primary, and long lines to vote.

Comparison: Such a high primary turnout could be a foreshadowing of what the polls could be like in the fall, Suchanic said.

"This might be a precursor of a historic election in November," Suchanic said.

During the last presidential election, 182,985 voters, or 65 percent, of York County voters went to the polls, according to 2012 election results.

More Republican voters turned out at the polls on Tuesday than their Democratic counterparts. Fifty-one percent, or 70,126, of registered GOP voters cast ballots, compared to 36,534, or 37 percent, of Democratic voters, according to the county elections office.

The main draw for voters was the heated and yet-to-be-decided Democratic and Republican presidential races.

Yorkers loudly trumpeted for GOP candidate Donald Trump, giving him 59 percent of the vote. The county's Democrats were nearly split down the middle, with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton barely beating out rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 18,445 votes to 17,533, to win York County.

Statewide turnout numbers were not available Wednesday.

A crowd of voters wait in line at Normandie Ridge Senior Center in West Manchester Twp., Tuesday morning. Amanda J.Cain photo

Lines: Lee Cordes ventured out to his polling place at the Fishing Creek Community Building in Fairview Township about 4 p.m. expecting to be in and out before the work crowd came out to vote. He was instead met by a roughly 45-minute wait.

"We thought we were going to beat the rush," he said.

Bernadette Averi was also surprised by the number of voters and the long waits she encountered at the same polling place.

"I was surprised to see so many cars," she said.

Wait times to vote were not only encountered in York County. Suchanic said lines were reported at polling places across the state.

Lines were also reported in Glen Rock and Jacobus. The queue at the Goodwill Fire Co. in Jacobus stretched almost the entire length of the inside of the main room.

Mayor Greg Gruendler said he had waited about half an hour to vote but added he didn’t mind the wait — he was glad to see the high turnout.

“People just want their voice heard this time,” he said.

Fellow Jacobus resident Mark Stetler felt differently about the line.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve lived here for 20 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it."

Staff writer Sean Philip Cotter contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.