Elk County voters cast ballots for Republican candidates

Photo by Amy Cherry
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

ST. MARYS — A record number of voters across Pennsylvania turned out for Tuesday’s general election including in Elk County, where 57 percent of residents cast their votes.
Statewide, 8.6 million registered voters hit the polls, a record high for midterm elections in Pennsylvania. Prior to this, the state’s highest midterm turnout was in 2006, when it was at 50 percent. Polls were open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Elk County voters leaned toward Republican candidates for the governor, senate and congressional races.
The top race in the state pitted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolfe and GOP challenger Scott Wagner. Elk County voters cast 6,800 votes (61.59 percent) for Wagner, topping Wolf’s 4,066 votes (36.83 percent) votes. Another 73 votes (.66 percent) were cast for Paul Glover, green party candidate, and 101 votes (.91 percent) for Ken V. Krawchuk, libertarian candidate. Four write-in votes were cast in the governors race in the county. Wolf will now serve as governor for an additional four years. This race will also help determine control of Congress over the next two years under President Trump.
In the senate race, Elk County voters opted for GOP challenger Lou Barletta, a congressman, with 6,487 votes (58.88 percent) over incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey with 4,363 votes (39.60 percent). An additional 60 votes (.54 percent) were cast for Neal Gale, green party candidate, and 108 votes (.98 percent) for Dale R. Kerns Jr., libertarian candidate. One write-in vote was cast in the senate race.
The congressional race for the 15th district went to incumbent Republican Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson with 7,550 votes (68.41 percent) compared to Democratic challenger Susan Boser with 3,482 votes (31.56 percent). Four write-in votes were cast in Elk County in the congressional race. This is a two year term.
Republican State Representative Matt Gabler of the 75th district encompassing Elk and Clearfield counties ran unopposed garnering 10,478 votes (98 percent). There were 214 write-in votes cast as well. This is a two year term.
Numerous St. Marys polling sites saw a continuous stream of voters on Tuesday.
“We have had an exceptional turnout, which is unusual for a midterm election,” said Sally Geyer, election day volunteer at St. Marys seventh ward.
Geyer credits social media and people being more informed of the issues for the increase in the number of voters.
In St. Marys 7,870 residents are registered voters.
“In the past, if we had 50 voters by noon we were lucky,” said Doris Schaefer, election day volunteer at the seventh ward.
Schaefer said there was a line of voters waiting outside the building at 6:45 a.m., which poll site volunteers recollect has never happened.
“We have more (voters) right now than for the whole primary (in May),” said Boots Bonfardine, election inspector at the ninth ward.
Over the past 40 years, Mary Jo McKnight, judge of election in the city’s ninth ward, has worked election day polls. Mary Jo along with her husband, Jack, and Bonfardine all received awards for voting in every election for the past 50 years.
Polling locations include; first and second wards at St. Mary’s Church Parish Center on Church Street, third and fourth wards at the Christian Education building on Washington Street, fifth and sixth wards at the Local 502 AFL-CIO Union Hall on Brusselles Street, seventh ward at the Christian Food Bank on S. Michael Street, eighth ward at the Best Western Inn on Earth Road, and the ninth ward at the Sacred Heart Parish Center on Center Street.
The largest ward in the city is the eighth ward with 1,256 voters. The number of voters in other St. Marys wards include 930 in ward one, 663 in ward two, 1,047 in ward three, 567 in ward four, 904 in ward five, 916 in ward sixth, 772 in ward seventh, 1,256 in ward eight, and 815 in ward nine.
Total registered voters in Elk County stands at 19,346 throughout its 30 precincts.
They include 210 in Benezette, 2,281 in Fox Township, 139 in Highland Township, 187 in James City, 847 in Horton Township, 1,269 in Jay Township, 71 in Lamont, 928 in Wilcox, 81 in Millstone Township, 1,557 in Ridgway Township, 147 in Spring Creek Township, 1,336 in Johnsonburg, 2,423 in Ridgway, and 7,870 in St. Marys.
On Tuesday, 4,158 Elk County Republicans voted straight party. This is triple the number from previous years where it has usually been about 1,000 straight party voters in each party according to Kim Frey, direction of Elk County Elections/Voter Registration.