Bedford sees large demand for ballots

Voters burn through polls’ printed supply

Although paper ballots are largely obsolete, they were in demand throughout Bedford County, where an unexpected surge in voters burned through the printed supply Tuesday afternoon during the midterm election.

Polling places in Bedford County ran out of paper ballots Tuesday, and county workers were sent to deliver more, said Debra Brown, chief clerk director of elections.

“We mostly run on paper ballots countywide. There are a lot of older people who don’t like to use the electronic polling station. But it was available,” Brown said.

County workers traveled miles to deliver more paper ballots to certain precincts, but Brown did not have a count of how many.

“I had no idea it would be like this. The turnout was historic in my opinion. I didn’t know we’d be inundated with that many voters. Generally, we 20 percent turnout. Yesterday was 58.97 percent or 18,572 voters of 31,487 total registered.

It’s a variety of ages. The county also received 896 absentee ballots or almost five times the number of absentee ballots it usually gets–200.

Nationwide, it was projected that voter turnout would surge among young people specifically.

Preliminary numbers show that Penn State students indeed met expectations for the midterm elections Tuesday night. Overall, 6,950 voters came out in student-heavy precincts around Penn State’s main campus.

One polling place serving mostly all Penn State students saw voter participation increase 5.9 times over the 2014 mid-terms.

Four other select precincts around State College that are populated mostly but not totally by students saw voter turnout increase four times over the 2014 midterm.

Kevin Horne, program coordinator of The Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose in Student Affairs, worked with student leaders in the College Democrats and College Republicans to encourage students to cast their vote.

Of the four nearly 100 percent student precincts, students voted about 3-to-1 Democrat to Republican, he noted.

The university is waiting for official numbers that will come in a couple of months, Horne said. When the final percentage is calculated, it will include Penn State Altoona and other campuses. The Altoona campus made efforts to increase student voter participation as well, including providing vans to polls.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.