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2018 News

Bucks Election Turnout Nears 65 Percent; Official Count Begins

November 9, 2018

Contact: Larry R. King, 215.348.6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

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Bucks County voters flocked to the polls in uncommonly large numbers on Tuesday, resulting in the highest turnout for a midterm general election in recent memory.

Official turnout numbers will not be final for several weeks, pending final tallies of provisional and absentee ballots and the likelihood of a recount in the razor-close 6th District State Senate race.

But according to preliminary totals, at least 64.7 of the county’s 454,301 registered voters participated in Tuesday’s voting. This year’s turnout far surpassed that of the prior three midterm elections, which ranged from a high of 57 percent in 2006 to a low of 46.3 percent in 2014. It did not, however, eclipse the turnout in any recent presidential elections, which has consistently exceeded 70 percent.  Official count04

Despite the onslaught of voters, the Bucks County Commissioners reported only minimal problems at polling places during Tuesday’s voting, chiefly minor issues with some voting machines and longer-than-usual lines at some voting districts.

“With 65 percent turnout, that’s going to happen sometimes,” Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler told the commissioners at their regular meeting on Wednesday. “We’re not downplaying that, it’s just a fact. We’ll work on that to see if there’s anything we can do, going forward, to address that issue.”

Hessenthaler praised the county’s Board of Elections staff, led by Assistant Director Katie Pliszka, Election Coordinator Thomas Freitag and the county’s Chief Clerk, Deanna Giorno, for “a phenomenal job” in managing a busy and sometimes contentious election cycle.

“I could not have asked for more out of this department…They stepped up and put in an unbelievable amount of hours,” said Hessenthaler, who also thanked other county departments for loaning employees to the elections office to assist with the heavy workload.

The post-election work continued this morning when Commissioners’ Chairman Robert G. Loughery swore in participants in the county’s Official Count process at the Board of Elections. Under the watch of public and private attorneys, reporters and other observers, more than 25 workers began the work of publicly canvassing and computing the returns of all county voting districts and confirming a final count of those votes.  Official count02

Also ongoing is the county’s investigation of provisional ballot requests, to determine whether each voter who cast a provisional ballot was properly registered to do so. The results of this inquiry will be presented at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Elections for approval.

Still arriving are military and overseas absentee ballots, which must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. Elections officials must also count any write-in votes cast. All of these processes must be concluded before a preliminary certification of the election results is made.   Official count03

At that point, there is a five-day period in which any challenges to the preliminary certification can be filed, including any petitions for recounts.