Young voters hit the polls — Trump and Sanders win in Lititz

By on April 27, 2016
First-time voter Aaron Brenner (right) gets instruction from Brad Bergman of the Warwick Democratic Committee Tuesday. Brenner, one on many new voters identified at the polls Tuesday, favored Bernie Sanders.

First-time voter Aaron Brenner (right) gets instruction from Brad Bergman of the Warwick Democratic Committee Tuesday. Brenner, one on many new voters identified at the polls Tuesday, favored Bernie Sanders.

Aaron Brenner had never been to a polling station before Tuesday evening.

“It was a pretty painless experience,” he said as he left the Lititz Public Library following a presumed vote cast for Bernie Sanders.

Brenner, 18, a senior at Warwick High School, was one of dozens of first time voters noticed by poll workers such as Democratic Brad Bergman on a day in which an unusually high turnout of voters pushed Donald Trump to victories in five state GOP primaries — including Pennsylvania and a win in Lancaster County.

Dennis Stuckey, a Lancaster County Commissioner from Lititz who worked the GOP poll at the library, greeted many voters looking for clarification on how Republican delegates are linked to candidates.

“It’s very heartwarming to see the younger voters come out,” he said. “I don’t get a chance to talk to a lot of them, but I spoke with about five first time voters today. It’s great seeing young people getting involved one way or the other in their personal politics; getting involved, getting interested in voting, and picking a candidate that will best serve you.”

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Some of the local highlights in Tuesday’s primary featured a win by state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, who celebrated a big triumph in the hard-fought Republican primary over Manheim businessman Chet Beiler for the 16th Congressional District.

Smucker is hoping to replace the retiring Joe Pitts and will face off with Democrat Christina Hartman in the general election in November.

Tim Reedy’s bid to unseat incumbent Mindy Fee ran out of steam in the 37th Pennsylvania District. The results with 100 percent precincts tallied Wednesday morning found Fee defeated Reedy by a three-to-one margin (Fee 9,309 – Reedy 2,810).

Fee, 51, said she communicates with constituents as much as possible through e-mail and town hall meetings. “I’m am so happy to see people come out and vote, and I’m glad they saw fit to send me back to Harrisburg,” she said yesterday.

Fee touched on the number of younger voters she noticed at the polls and at other campaign events.

“I’ll tell you, one of the key things I try to do is communicate with the people in the 37th District,” she said. “All people in the 37th District, including sending out e-mail blasts. I think it’s very important to be engaged with their public servants. I try to let them know what votes are coming and what’s coming out in the district.”

Reedy chose not to seek the party’s endorsement and knew it was a long shot to win. Ultimately his strategy of painting himself as an outsider failed.

“I knew it was always going to be a battle to run against an incumbent who is well-liked and really doesn’t have anything against her,” he said.

While Randall Wenger, Lancaster County head of elections, said the official turnout was brisk, it wasn’t what it could have been on a day when temperatures topped 80 degrees.

Election Day temperatures hit 80 degrees, but a brief drenching thunderstorm just after 5 p.m. made outside poll workers scatter, and created a double rainbow over Lititz.

Election Day temperatures hit 80 degrees, but a brief drenching thunderstorm just after 5 p.m. made outside poll workers scatter, and created a double rainbow over Lititz.

A drenching thunderstorm just after 5 p.m. had threatened turnout, but it lasted only about 15 minutes

County election data showed that 51 percent of registered Republicans voted in the presidential race, and 40 percent of Democrats. While that still means most local voters stayed away from the polls, it exceeds the average results in a primary year.

The average primary turnout is typically much lower, even in presidential election years. In 2008, 35.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; 21.4 percent voted in 2012. Last year, 12.02 percent of eligible voters went to the polls for the primary.

Still, the higher turnout, especially among young and new voters was enough to lift Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders to victory in Lancaster County, though Hillary Clinton ended up winning the Pennsylvania Democratic primary.

In another Democratic race to be the party nominee for U.S. Senate, Katie McGinty, who received the endorsements of top Democrats from President Barack Obama defeated second-time candidate Joe Sestak, a retired Navy rear admiral, and John Fetterman.

In the race for Lloyd Smucker’s state Senate seat, former Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin beat his two challengers to earn the GOP nomination for Pennsylvania’s 13th state senatorial district. Martin defeated Ethan Demme and Neal Rice, earning just under 50 percent of the vote.

Democrat Cathy Gelatka and Republican Kim Conrad demonstrate the friendly cooperation many hope to see in the halls of Congress.

Democrat Cathy Gelatka and Republican Kim Conrad demonstrate the friendly cooperation many hope to see in the halls of Congress.

Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County on Tuesday easily beat former prosecutor and police officer Joe Peters to win the GOP nomination.

In the Democratic race for attorney general, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro defeated Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. and John Morganelli of Northhampton County.

Democrat incumbent Kathleen Kane chose not to seek a second term. She’s facing trial on charges she unlawfully leaked grand jury information and then lied about it, and has been stripped of her law license.

Benedict R. Sahd, a Warwick School Board member, worked the polls Tuesday afternoon.

“I think the younger generation are going to set the pace, they’re going to set the standard for future elections,” he said. “I think candidates better make sure they reach out to the younger generations.

“Younger people are starting to realize the only way to control their destiny and their futures is to go out and do something about it,” he said. “And what’s great is parents and guardians are helping them do that. They’re not putting pressure on who to vote for or how to vote. But they’re showing them where to vote.”

Bergman said it’s been an interesting mix of new voters he’s talked to.

“I know a lot who registered to vote for Bernie, I know some who registered to vote for Trump, and I know one who is a Democrat who registered Republican to vote against Trump (he voted for Kasich),” Bergman said. “It’s very interesting, the different ways people are expressing their votes.”

Brenner said he felt a sense of satisfaction when he exited the polls for the first time at the Lititz Public Library.

“I had really no idea what I was doing, but they made it fairly easy; it was a good experience,” he said.

Brenner said he and a few other 18-year-old classmates all registered Democrat and favored Bernie Sanders.

“The candidate that spoke to me most was Bernie Sanders because I agree with a lot of the stuff he says and I think he’s the best candidate of all of them,” Brenner said.

In Lancaster County, voters selected Bernie Sanders 21,202 versus Hillary Clinton’s 19,780.

Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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