High turnout, no major issues reported at York County polling sites

Staff report

York County poll workers reported heavy turnout despite a stormy start to Election Day.

Chris Mummert, judge of elections at Porters Sideling Fire Co. in Heidelberg Township, said she thinks early voting was higher than during previous midterm elections.

It was heavy for the first hour after polls opened at 7 a.m., she said, and she expected it to pick up again in the evening.

Paul King, who was representing the York County Republican Committee of Heidelberg Township at the polling site, said he had seen close to 100 voters in that first hour.

Some of them darted into the fire station, shaking off the rain.

“Nice day, huh?” one said.

At Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Spring Garden Township, judge of elections Rob Stuart said about 18 percent of the 1,940 people registered to vote at the polling site had already shown up by 10:45 a.m.

He said he expected about 60 percent turnout by the time polls closed at 8 p.m., which would be unusually high for a midterm election, which typically would draw about 40 percent.

In the 2014 midterm general election, 45.28 percent of registered York County voters went to the polls, according to county voting data. G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said this was in keeping with participation statewide. In 2010, the number was a bit higher at 49.36 percent.

Tuesday afternoon, Sally Kohlbus, assistant director of the York County Office of Elections and Voter Registration, confirmed that turnout had been "heavy."

She said poll workers had reported strong turnout throughout the county, but she did not have any specific counts, other than in Red Lion, where about 50 percent had voted so far.

Kohlbus said there were no unusual issues with voting machines reported to her, and despite long lines in Carroll Township this morning, they had no effect on voters, "other than patience."

The only major issue was a power outage in York Township, but she said generators enabled voting to continue. 

Chad Baker, chair of the York County Democratic Party, said around on Tuesday that his party was "cautiously optimistic" about the election's results, but he preferred not to make any predictions.

"Turnout has been incredibly strong all across the county," he said. "We’re seeing it in the city, up over what it was in 2014, in some cases significantly up over what it was in 2014."

Baker said that regardless of the outcome, it's exciting to see the number of people going to the polls today.

Representatives for the York County Republican Committee were not available for comment Tuesday.

High interest: Many of the voters at Luther Memorial on Hollywood Drive noted that this election is more significant than past midterms.

“I think something really has to change,” said Norma Mangan.

On why she voted, Carole Borsch got right to the point: “To get rid of Trump.”

Chris McCleaf said he voted for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, adding he did not care for Republican challenger Scott Wagner.

But at The Kinsley Education Center polling site in York City, Brenda Fanale said she voted for Wagner after supporting Wolf in the previous election, citing concern about property taxes.

'I am who I am': Wagner was among the first to vote at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center.

"I believe we're going to win this," he said outside the polling place. "I know we're going to win it."

Wagner said he's traveled across the commonwealth and feels he's connected with voters, especially on the issue of eliminating property taxes. 

"The message that I'm going to tell people: I am who I am, I grew up on a farm," Wagner said. "I'm a blue-collar guy. I'm not a career politician. I don't want to be. I have a great career."

Make or break: At the Hanover Municipal Building polling site, a steady stream of voters moved quickly through the lines right after the polls opened.

Shirley Pond, a local Republican committeewoman, said she thinks this midterm election has more significance than previous ones, and the decisions made could make or break what she sees as progress.

“A lot of things have changed last year for the better,” she said.

Gregory A. Lightner acknowledged there have been issues, but he thinks bipartisanship can move the country forward.

Shirley Pond, a Republican committee woman, votes Nov. 6 at the Porter Sidelings Fire Co. in Heidelberg Township.

“I just hope that everyone takes their liberty and right to vote seriously, and gets out today to vote,” he said Tuesday.

Back at the Heidelberg Township polling place, Tara Wenzel was dressed in red, white and blue to “inspire” fellow voters.

“The most important thing to me is to hopefully see the country pull together,” she said. “The divisiveness in the country right now is very sad to me, and I really would like to see, whoever goes into office, I really would like to see them try to pull the country together.”

Many echoed her sentiments, citing hate on both sides of party lines.

Twenty-year-old Katie Molison was voting in her first midterm election because “I don’t want a Democrat to win,” she said, citing liberals' treatment of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Molison said she believes voting is the right thing to do, and others at multiple polling locations expressed their commitment to the civic duty — both for themselves and their children.

North Codorus Township voter Stan Smeltzer, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who fought in the Vietnam War, said he’s voting because he believes in what the Christian scriptures say about honoring authority.

“That’s a privilege we have,” he said.

'It's their future': Others at the fire station said they were voting with their children or grandchildren in mind.

Kim Minetola, in Heidelberg Township, said she didn’t start voting in midterm elections until she had children.

“It’s their future,” she said.

Charlie Matthews said he’s voting for his children and grandchildren, and one issue important to him is more background checks for weapons.

“I think it’s ridiculous; we don’t need assault rifles,” he said, adding only police and the military need such weapons.

At the Salvation Army polling place in York City, Wormley Dyquil said he voted to stand up to President Donald Trump, whom he likened to a bully.

Julie Stefanski, a Spring Garden Township voter, said she’s been “unhappy with politicians not looking out for people and looking out for other interests.”

After being registered for the same party for 25 years, this is the first year she switched.

Stefanski declined to reveal her party affiliation.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner cast his vote at 7 a.m. Nov. 6 at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A push to increase turnout: Throughout the day, volunteers with York NAACP were driving voters to the polls, said chapter president Sandra Thompson. 

"If transportation is a problem, if weather is a problem, we will take them immediately and bring them straight back to their homes," she said. 

Thompson was taking calls for pick-ups as well as sending volunteers door-to-door to reach out to residents. 

While volunteers went throughout the county to pick up voters, the push was mainly in the city, where turnout is lower, Thompson said. 

As of about 4:30 p.m. on Election Day, Thompson said the NAACP was still looking for more volunteers. 

There are not enough for the need in the community, she said. 

"The more volunteers we have, the more doors we can hit," she said. 

Those interested in volunteering or getting a pick-up can call Thompson at 717-577-4436.