Tuesday’s general election marks the end of months of confusion, controversy and uncertainty for voters across the nation, but in Cumberland County, enthusiasm remains high.
“We are expecting a 75 to 80 percent turnout for this election,” said Penny Brown, the director of the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections. “And that’s based on turnout from the last two presidential elections.”
Despite a late court decision suspending Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, Brown said she hasn’t noticed any spike in confusion over procedures on Election Day.
“We haven’t had any conversations where voters are confused,” she said. “The ones we talked to knew about the original ruling already.”
Brown noted the only controversy she knew of related to the voter ID law came out of Hampden Township, where an October 2012 newsletter reiterated the law to residents. This newsletter, according to township officials, was printed before Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s Oct. 2 ruling came out to stop the law from affecting Tuesday’s election.
“It is difficult to know the full impact of the confusion over the voter ID law,” said Brandon Lenoir, assistant professor of political science at Dickinson College. “Will it confuse and possibly deter voters from going to the polls on Election Day? Yes. How many? That remains to be seen.”
Lenoir said voter turnout rates in the United States rank significantly lower than other industrialized nations. In the 2008 election, 61.6 percent of voters turned out to the polls on Election Day, a record 40-year high for the United States, but still dismal compared to European nations such as Italy, Belgium, Germany and Sweden, with turnout rates of 89 percent, 91 percent, 79 percent and 86 percent, respectively.
“Anything that can be seen as a hurdle for voting will reduce turnout,” he said. “History has shown that time and time again. The big question is, how many people will be deterred, and whether it will have an effect on the outcome of the election.”
The polls will be open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and those standing in line at polling places by 8 p.m. will still be allowed to cast a ballot.
For any questions regarding the voting process, call the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections office at 717-240-6385 or 1-888-697-0371 ext. 6385 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Polling places can be found online at visit www.ccpa.net/index.aspx?nid=1894.