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Turnout average despite snowstorm



SUNBURY — An unpredicted snowstorm may have swayed candidates’ polling place volunteers, but didn’t stop voters from turning up for several hotly contested races.

Northumberland County Election Director Alisha Elliott said early Tuesday afternoon she thought turnout may be lower than usual due to the weather, which at times featured a mix of snow and rain, after receiving fewer than typical phone calls to her headquarters in Sunbury.

Elliott later reported, however, that out of 52,173 registered voters, 14,581 votes were cast, equating a roughly 27.9 percent turnout. She said that is about average for a municipal election and yet some voters were kept away because of the weather.

As large snowflakes fell in Hickory Corners, the polling location for the Dalmatia area, poll workers reported a strong turnout. By 4 p.m., more than 200 residents had cast their vote in the location, according to Carol Ronngren, election judge.

“We are Hickory Corners farmers, but we turn out,” said Ronngren.

‘Steady all day’

Steve Rhoads, who manned the polls at the Rockefeller Township municipal building in Seven Points, said at around 5 p.m. they expected turnout to be 30 percent or higher.

“It’s been steady all day, amazingly, with the weather and everything considered,” he said.

“It’s nothing like last fall,” added Alma Stahl, also a poll worker at the location, referencing the strong turnout for the presidential election.

Rhoads said he thought the weather may have kept volunteers for candidates from stationing themselves outside the polling place. Only two volunteers were waiting outside the Seven Points location: a volunteer for magisterial district judge candidate Michael Toomey and 10-year-old Lacey Shingara, who was handing out pens and cards for her aunt, prothonotary candidate Jamie Saleski.

Shingara, who wore pigtails and a Saleski T-shirt, said she was not a fan of working a polling place and would likely never run for office herself.

“I just don’t really like it,” she said.

Wives get involved

Toomey’s wife, Tammy, and his competitor’s wife, Stephanie Apfelbaum, worked side-by-side in front of the Hickory Corners fire station to greet voters. Tammy Toomey huddled under a large umbrella while Stephanie Apfelbaum piled on several layers.

“We had a really busy morning here,” said Tammy Toomey.

Benjamin Apfelbaum, the incumbent candidate for the Sunbury magisterial district judge seat, stationed himself in front of ManorCare in Sunbury for the day. He befriended Tony Giordani, who was volunteering for Toomey, and the two chatted under the awning of the nursing home while waiting for voters to arrive. 

“I think the county can’t lose with two good candidates,” said Giordani.

Apfelbaum said he thought voter turnout was good at the location.

“I’m so pleased all the voters are coming out,” said Apfelbaum. “We had a good turnout despite the cold and the rain.”

Elliott couldn’t recall a time when a snowstorm hampered Election Day, but said in 2011 the county faced a major flood just days before the election. With many polling places located in damaged areas, then-commissioner Vinny Clausi lent election employees his construction work trucks to deliver voting machines, she recalled.

“That was scary a little bit,” she said.

Elliott reported no major issues with the Tuesday election.