High numbers of voters made their way to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in this monumental presidential election, many waiting in line for an hour or longer as polls had to follow social distancing guidelines with the coronavirus pandemic.
Preliminary, unofficial results have been posted to the Franklin and Cumberland county websites, but mail-in ballots are still being counted, and official results will not be available until at least next week.
In Franklin County, unofficial numbers are showing the red county to remain consistent with its voting record as 75 percent of voters chose to re-elect President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a second term, with 22.87 percent of voters choosing challengers former Vice President Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters turned out in Franklin County Tuesday.
In the race for Attorney General, Republican challenger Heather Heidelbaugh garnered 74 percent of the vote versus Incumbent Democrat Josh Shapiro’s 23 percent.
Auditor General Republican candidate Timothy DeFoor is shown to have received 75 percent of the vote, versus 19.94 percent of the vote for Democratic challenger Nina Ahmad.
Incumbent Treasurer Democrat Joe Torsella has secured 21 percent of the unofficial tallied votes, versus Republican challenger Stacy L. Garrity who has garnered 75. 64 percent of the vote.
In the 13th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Dr. John Joyce has earned 77.87 percent of the vote, versus Democratic challenger Todd Rowley with 22.06 percent of the vote in the county.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano earned 75.06 percent of the unofficial tallied votes in the 33rd District, with Democratic challenger Rich Sterner earning 24.83 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Kauffman ran unopposed in the 89th district, and garnered 95 percent of the unofficial vote tallies. Incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Schemel also ran unopposed in the 90th District, and garnered 97 percent of the unofficial tallied votes.
In Cumberland County, only 47.29 percent of registered voters reported to the polls or returned mail-in or absentee ballots by 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Cumberland County Republican candidates are also showing the majority of the votes, including Trump/Pence, Heidelbaugh, DeFoor, Garrity, Joyce and Mastriano. Republican Perry Stambaugh ran unopposed to fill Rep. Mark Keller’s seat in the 86th District, which includes Shippensburg Township. Keller opted not to run for re-election.
Joyce released the following statement after Tuesday’s numbers were reported:
“It is an incredible privilege to serve my fellow Pennsylvanians in Congress, and I am grateful that they have entrusted me with serving as their voice. It is my honor – and my responsibility – to fight for every Pennsylvanian in the 13th Congressional District. As we wage war against an unprecedented pandemic, I will work to rebuild our economy, strengthen our healthcare system, defend Americans against foreign threats, and create American jobs for American workers. My pledge is to continue working for Pennsylvanians and for our commonsense, conservative values.”
Mastriano said, “The people of the 33rd Senate District and all of Pennsylvania have spoken. We were blessed by one of the largest margins of victory in the state with about 82 percent of the vote in our favor. The message is clear to Gov. Wolf and his failed policies, that we will walk as free people regardless of his schemes to tread upon our rights. It’s a great day in America and we rejoice with the people of our commonwealth as free men and women to live our lives as we see fit.”
Franklin County Election Board officials released the following news release ahead of Tuesday’s general election: “On Oct. 31, 2019, Act 77 was signed into law in Pennsylvania. This Act states that Pre-canvassing of absentee and mail-in ballots may begin on Election Day after 7 a.m. Pre-canvassing includes the manual opening of the declaration envelope, removing the secrecy envelope, opening the secrecy envelope, and finally removing the actual ballot. Ballots then need to be back-folded to flatten in preparation for scanning them through the high speed central scanner. Franklin County will begin this process at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 3. Act 77 also states that ‘The County Board of Election shall meet no earlier than the close of polls on the day of the election (8 p.m.) and no later than the third day following the election to begin canvassing the absentee ballots and mail-in ballots received under this subsection and subsection (h)(2). The canvass shall continue through the eighth day following the election.’ On Election Night, beginning around 8:30 p.m., all of our 73 polling places will be reporting back to the county with the results of in-person voting. This process is overseen by the three member County Board of Elections with the assistance of many county staff members including County Administration, Elections, Voter Registration and Information Technology. Due to the anticipated increased turnout at the polls, we do not expect to have this process completed until around 11 p.m. As we have previously reported, Franklin County has received over 24,000 applications for absentee and mail-in ballots. Even with a high speed central scanner counting approximately 4,500 ballots per hour, if the process started at 11 p.m., we still would not have results on Tuesday. Our goal is accuracy. Since we have been given three days to complete our canvass, we will recess on election night and reconvene on Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. to give our full attention to this process. As stated in the Act, the canvass will continue through Tuesday, Nov. 10, when military absentee ballots and provisional ballots are counted per state law. Voters are encouraged to check our website at: www.franklincountypa.gov or the state website at: www.electionreturns.pa.gov for election results since we will be updating them on a daily basis. All results will have three reporting group totals: 1) Election Day, 2) Mail-in and 3) Provisional. On Tuesday evening, the public will see the results from Election Day voting under the first category. Beginning on Wednesday, the public will start to see totals under the second category and we will continue to update this category until all absentee and mail-in ballots have been counted. Keep in mind that military voters have until Tuesday, Nov. 10, to get their ballots back and counted. Finally, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the public will see any provisional ballot results in the third category since counties have seven days after each election to research to determine whether a provisional ballot will count or not. We do want to assure all voters that their absentee and mail-in ballots will be counted unless it was returned ‘naked’ and not in a secrecy envelope. We are also awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether ballots with a postmark of Nov. 3, but received up through Nov. 6 can be counted.”
Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger noted on Tuesday, “The PA Supreme Court Ruling directs that mail-in ballots need to be sent and postmarked by 5 p.m. today, but that the transit period for them will last until 5 p.m. Friday. Today, Tuesday, we are focused on administering the election process for in-person voting, which involves well over 100 polling locations across the county, involving hundreds of election workers and voting machines. It is quite a handful any year, but with COVID-19 precautions, there are lots of extra duties to ensure machines are sanitary for voters, and that voters are distanced and can feel safe coming to the polling place. Because of the extension, and the rules governing the counting process now, we have determined that we will focus on machine voting today, and turn our attention to the mail-in and drop-off ballots beginning tomorrow morning. While the state has changed the rules and asked us to separate all ballots arriving after 8 p.m., we have no reason to believe that those votes would be invalidated by the courts. Despite unwarranted concerns being floated, as well as conspiracy theories and threats about an early end to counting, Cumberland County will count all ballots in accordance with the law. We have no interest in disenfranchising voters who cast a ballot with the expectation their voice will be heard. Our decision to undertake connoting for in-hand ballots, not cast on machines, will not change the outcome of the vote; it should however ensure that when the counting is complete, it will be reliable, and we will have ensured the security of the election process. We distributed around 60,000 ballots for absentee and mail-in voters, and so far, around 49,000 have been returned. We won’t be touching those ballots until counting begins Wednesday morning. This figure is far in excess of the volume we are accustomed to counting most years with the standard absentee system, but the process is the same. We have extra staff in place to ensure we are equipped for the counting process, and the commonwealth requires that daily totals be uploaded to them for posting on their website. Once the Friday deadline for mail-in ballots expires, we envision a pretty rapid conclusion, since most ballots will have already been counted, but we cannot guess on a completion day. Moreover, we used this two-track system -- machine ballots on election day, in-hand ballots afterwards -- during this year’s primary election in the spring, and it worked very well, without any complications.”