Polls Are Now Closed; Robust Voter Turnout Greets Poll Workers
Turnout for the mid-term election in Lackawanna County remained heavy throughout the day as voters cast ballots that will decide pivotal state and national races.
Marion Medalis, the county’s director of elections, said many municipalities reported significantly higher turn out than the May primary election.
“We’ve been busy with calls with people checking if they’re registered and where to vote. We’re told the turn out was heavy, too,” Medalis said.
In Dunmore, 500 of the 1,200 registered voters cast ballots in district 1-3, located at the Greater Scranton YMCA on Blakely Street, as of around 4 p.m., said Dan Schreffler,judge of elections. He anticipates 800 people will vote by the time polls close at 8 p.m.
Officials expected a high turnout as Democrats and Republicans worked hard to drum up support for the election, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as governor’s office and the state house.
“It’s obvious this is a referendum on our leadership and direction,” Schreffler said. “It’s either going to be an affirmation of what’s happening . . . or we are going to do something different.”
Late day voting at his polling place was expected to get a further boost from a voting celebration from 3 to 7 p.m. that featured free pizza, entertainment and giveaways. The event was sponsored by the YMCA and Votetogther, a national organization that promotes voter turnout. “The goal is to make voting a fun thing,” said Megan Carnevale, senior director of mission advancement and marketing for the YMCA. “We hope it’s something that gives people the extra push to get out the door.”
Carolyn Otto, 45, of Dunmore, cast her ballot at the YMCA around 4:30 p.m. A dedicated voter, she would have come out, celebration or not, but said she appreciated the efforts to encourage others.
“Every election is important. If you want change you have to be out here,” she said. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”
Schreffler and officials in several municipalities, including Scranton, Moosic and Old Forge, said they saw a good mix of first-time voters along with some who had not voted in years.
“We had one man who had not voted in 20 years come out,” said Beverly Gandara, a volunteer in Moosic’s 3rd ward.
Several voters said they were motivated to come out by specific issues.
In Moosic, voter Mary MacDonald,76, said health care is her No. 1 concern.
“I’m on Medicare. If they change that, you have to worry,” she said.
Claire Scheller, 70, of South Scranton, shares that concern, particularly for the elderly.
“I don’t think people realize how many elderly can’t afford their medications,” she said. “I work in the health care field. There are people begging every day for their medication because they can’t afford it.”
Regardless of the outcome, Russell Rinaldi,an Old Forge councilman, said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can work past their differences and end the partisanship that’s dominated politics.
“This election is probably the biggest one since I’ve been voting,” Rinaldi said. “We have to do what’s right and get done what needs to be done for the people.”
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