Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Evening election updates

7:00 p.m.: Unitarian Church, West Chestnut St., Lancaster City

At the Unitarian Universalist Church on West Chestnut Street, they had seen 410 voters as of 7:00 p.m. This is roughly 55% of the total number of registered voters in the precinct, which is 745. Eldon E. Schiefer is the Judge of Elections and has been working the polls there for 35 years. One of the Clerks of Election for the precinct shared that 20 provisional ballots had been cast at the polling place, and about 15 voters mistakenly came there thinking it was their polling place. They generally insist on the paper ballots, but some voters still elect to use the eSlate. In fact, some 40 voters had used the eSlate throughout the course of the day. The Clerk of Elections shared that there was a line with about a 10-minute wait when they first opened at 7:00 a.m., but 12 hours later things had died down considerably. They said they had one instance where an eScan machine jammed when they tried to insert a ballot. After a bit of playing with the ballot and re-trying it, the machine eventually accepted it. The staff reported no problems, except one cantankerous man who they said seemed mentally disturbed and kept angrily insisting that Republicans and Democrats should have separate polling places. A Democratic party poll watcher was present for much of the day, and there was a girl out front of the polling place promoting Home Rule.

7:30 p.m.: Lancaster County Courthouse (Lancaster City)

With the evening drawing to a close, the workers at the Lancaster County Courthouse polling place indicated that 526 voters out of about 1,000 in the precinct came out to vote. Antonia Hinnenkamp, an Inspector of Elections, estimated that turnout was 1/3 higher than it has been for previous Presidential elections. 63 people chose to vote on the eSlate. The wait time was, at most, 10-15 minutes, and that occurred primarily in the morning when they first opened. Hinnenkamp said that voters seemed very enthusiastic and proud about voting in this election. She shared that she encountered individuals who had snuck out of the hospital to vote because they were still wearing their wristbands and garments. Julia Ortiz, a Millersville University student who speaks Spanish was essential in translating for the approximately 30 Spanish-only speaking voters who came out to vote. They issued 28 provisional ballots for individuals whose residence in the precinct could not immediately be verified. A Democratic Party poll watcher had been present for much of the day, and there were people promoting Home Rule outside in the lobby area. They reported no behavioral problems and no trouble with the voting machines.