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Fewer than 25 percent of county voters turn out


November 06. 2013 11:06AM
Times Leader staff



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Turnout was light throughout most regions of Luzerne County as other than a handful of hotly contested races, the ballots matched the turnout.


Even in the Pittston area, where a district judge race was expected to bring out the crowds, the reports and observations from precincts throughout the county were pretty much the same. At 24.5 percent, it meant that fewer than one out of every four registered voters in the county bothered to vote Tuesday.


That was slightly better than the primary election turnout however, which resulted in about 20 percent of the county’s registered voters casting a vote.


Here’s a look at the day in voting from throughout Luzerne County:


Three hours after polls opened a crane loomed nearby as morning voters entered the polling station behind St. Aloysius Church in Wilkes-Barre. Workers dropped tools and supplies into a large metal bin sitting on a pallet, to be hoisted to the steeple roof, repairing a leak near the cross at the top.


Inside, election officials bemoaned a light turn out.


“We’ve only had 24 so far,” Mary Lou McNulty said at 10 a.m., a time when this site often saw two or three times that number in the past.


As if on cue, four people line up at the table.


“Look,” McNulty quipped, “We have a run!”


* * *

Driving past voting precincts in Plains Township and Wilkes-Barre early afternoon showed plenty of candidate’s signs but few people walking past them to be swayed before they voted.


During a 10-minute span just one car drove into the parking lot for the Hollenback Golf Course, where voters in Wilkes-Barre’s first ward cast ballots. Across North Washington Street from the polling place, George Stimple walked his dog and said he has more faith his four-legged pet would be a better elected leader than anyone on the ballot.


“I don’t vote, I don’t register to vote, I don’t think any of these candidates are going to help things get better. So it’s a waste of my time,” Stimple said.


* * *

Turnout was light for Dallas Township’s second-district polling place. Election Judge George Kebles said it was one of the lightest he has worked in his last three years running the polls.


“I think it’s mostly voter apathy,” Kebles said.


With no contested races in the township, Kebles said interest is down. Conflict brings out the voters, he said. Around 1 p.m., Kebles counted 198 voters out of roughly 2,400 registered in the district.


* * *

Turnout was also slow at the Fairview Township polling place in the Mountain Top Hose Company on Woodlawn Avenue.


As of 2:45 p.m., 390 of the roughly 3,000 registered voters cast ballots, election workers said.


The only people in the parking lot were candidate representatives eager to pass out campaign material, but those fliers remained mostly in their hands.


* * *

Elsewhere in the southern end of Luzerne County, turnout was no better despite a contested seat on the Hazleton Area School Board.


West Hazleton’s third ward saw a turnout of 43 voters out of the 703 registered — 6 percent — as of 2 p.m., nearly the half-way mark in the 13-hour window polls were open Tuesday.


“There’s not much on the ballot, and we all know there’s a lot of apathy out there. ‘Are they going to do what they say they’re going to do?’ is the attitude (of non-voters toward candidates),” said Third Ward Inspector of Elections Teresa Schlauch.


Across the room of the mostly empty West Hazleton Community Center, Inspector of Elections Irene Yeager said only about 10 percent of voters registered in Ward 2 had turned out.


“We’re normally at 40 percent, but not today. It’s very bad. But we don’t have any local contests. Everybody’s unopposed — mayor, council.” Yeager said.


* * *

Reports out of Freeland just after the polls closed was that three of the six machines were having mechanical issues and a technician was summoned. The judges of election had to remain at the community center to keep an eye on the machines and the results from that borough’s two wards were not available by deadline.




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