Midterm sees record turnout

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - Dig­i­tal First Me­dia Staff Writer Mike Rel­la­han con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Ma­jor­ity In­spec­tor Carol Woz­niak.

Be­fore noon Nov. 6, Jackie Glea­son, ma­jor­ity in­spec­tor for the Dou­glass District 4 polling place at the Gil­bertsville fire­house, said “we’ve al­ready passed our to­tal for the pri­mary.”

Dave LaMonaco didn’t mind wait­ing in the line though.

“I’ve al­ready told peo­ple if you lopped off my leg with an ax, I would still be here to vote,” he said with a laugh.

Else­where in Mont­gomery County, the story was the same.

Grab­bing a quick slice of pizza, Deb­bie Whalen, ma­jor­ity in­spec­tor at Potts­grove Mid­dle School, said Up­per Potts­grove vot­ing was so busy she had to choose be­tween lunch and a bath­room break.

“We ran out of ‘I voted’ stick­ers be­fore noon,” she said.

Whalen said she was see­ing a lot of new vot­ers from new de­vel­op­ments, as well as a lot of young vot­ers.

“We had a girl who was vot­ing for the first time, so she needed to show ID but she didn’t have it. She went home and came back to vote,” said Whalen. “I think that’s won­der­ful. They’re in­ter­ested in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

Vot­ers in Mont­gomery County cer­tainly did make a dif­fer­ence, with a 65 per­cent vot­ing rate; un­der the record 78 per­cent turn-out for 2016, but tow­er­ing over the 32 per­cent turn-out in 2017 and the 48 per­cent turnout in the last midterm elec­tion

in 2014.

Mont­gomery County de­liv­ered a 135,000-vote ma­jor­ity for Gov. Tom Wolf and his lieu­tenant gov­er­nor run­ning mate, John Fet­ter­man, ac­cord­ing to num­bers re­leased Nov. 7 by the Mont­gomery County Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee.

The county’s 255,000 votes in to­tal for the WolfFet­ter­man ticket con­sti­tuted the third largest trove of Demo­cratic votes in the state, af­ter only Philadel­phia and Al­legheny County (home to Pitts­burgh). The county also pro­duced a ma­jor­ity of more than 120,000 votes for Sen. Bob Casey, help­ing him to win a third term U.S. Se­nate term, ac­cord­ing to Demo­cratic Chair­man Joseph Fos­ter.

“Over the years, we have turned this county from red to blue, and now we are con­sol­i­dat­ing our strength across the board,” he said in the state­ment.

A look at the Mont­gomery County elec­tions map shows a sea of blue town­ships and bor­oughs, with red indi­cat­ing Repub­li­can ma­jori­ties only in the north­west cor­ner, from the Potts­groves north.

One place that strength showed was in the 146th state House leg­isla­tive race in which Demo­cratic chal­lenger Joe Ciresi beat in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Rep. Tom Quigley by about 2,800 votes out of 41,000 cast.

Two years ago, Ciresi lost to Quigley by just 600 votes out of roughly 30,000 cast.

And even though Demo­crat Linda Fields of Pottstown lost her bid to un­seat Repub­li­can state Sen. Bob Men­sch in the 24th Dist., she earned 585 more votes than Men­sch in the Mont­gomery County por­tion of the district.

That ad­van­tage was erased six times over by the more than 3,000 vote lead Men­sch took over Fields in the Berks County por­tion of the district.

In­cum­bent Repub­li­can state Sen. John Raf­ferty Jr. had no such safe haven in the 44th Se­nate District, split be­tween Mont­gomery and Ch­ester coun­ties with a por­tion of Berks. His op­po­nent, po­lit­i­cal novice Katie Muth, won in both Ch­ester and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

In fact, she beat Raf­ferty by nearly 6,000 votes out of 112,713 cast — a 2.7 per­cent mar­gin of vic­tory.

And while Mont­gomery County’s shift from re­li­ably blue to re­li­ably red has been on­go­ing for sev­eral years, the shift in Ch­ester County is much more star­tling, where Repub­li­cans still hold a 11,500 ad­van­tage in voter reg­is­tra­tions.

Dur­ing the last midterm in 2014, voter turnout in Ch­ester County was just un­der 47 per­cent and last year, a pal­try 32 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers went to the polls. On Nov. 6, voter turnout was more than 66 per­cent.

“This is phe­nom­e­nal, such a great turnout,” Su­san Scott, judge of elec­tions in North Coven­try’s mid­dle district polling place at the Norco fire­house. “I love how many first-time vot­ers we’re see­ing. More than we’ve seen in a long time.”

And that turnout trans­lated into some of the most star­tling up­sets.

In ad­di­tion to Raf­ferty, Ch­ester County vot­ers pro­vided vic­to­ries to Democrats Dan K. Wil­liams in the 74 Leg­isla­tive District — the county’s first black Demo­cratic state rep­re­sen­ta­tive — Danielle Friel Ot­ten in the 155th District, Melissa Shus­ter­man in the 157th District, Christina Sappey in the 158th District, and Kris­tine Howard in the 167th District.

The last four bested in­cum­bent Repub­li­cans Becky Corbin, Warren Kampf, Eric Roe and Duane Milne, re­spec­tively.

In an in­ter­view Nov. 7, John Kennedy, pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at West Ch­ester Univer­sity, said the county’s vote for Democrats un­der­scored the chang­ing face of the po­lit­i­cal map across south­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

“I think the re­sults are from a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors. You had can­di­dates who were well matched for the district — women in many in­stances — and who pro­vided an an­ti­dote to Trump,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said there has been for some time a path for Ch­ester County Democrats to make it to the state Capi­tol, “but this be­ing the kind of year it is made that eas­ier. Repub­li­cans were more vul­ner­a­ble, and the same way it hap­pened in Mont­gomery County, the bal­ance has shifted.”


Up­per Potts­grove vot­ers line up at the reg­is­tra­tion ta­ble at Potts­grove Mid­dle School.


Daniel Mur­phy, was voter num­ber 700 at the Grace Lutheran Church polling place in Pottstown. To his right is Amy Gazillo, voter 699. Dur­ing the pri­mary elec­tion in May only 259 votes were cast there all day.


Turnout was brisk for the two Dou­glass (Mont.) Town­ship vot­ing dis­tricts that cast their bal­lots at the Gil­bertsville

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