Venango Voters Take to Polls During 2018 Primaries

| May 16, 2018

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Though the rumblings of this year’s election were murmurs compared to 2016’s intense presidential election, people from all over the Venango County area braved the stormy weather to make their voices heard on Tuesday.

(Pictured above: Cranberry Township’s 4th Precinct election officials work to help voters cast their ballots during Tuesday’s Primary election. Pictured above are Deanna Mahle, Karen Shepard, Joy Shotts, Joyce Bowser, and Judy Buckholt.)

In Seneca, it was business as usual for Cranberry Township’s 4th Precinct voters, though at a much slower pace. With only 89 out of the precinct’s 1,366 registered voters having cast their ballots before noon, it certainly was a more relaxed mid-morning, but as Deanna Mahle notes, the low numbers were expected.

“Turnout’s been slow, very slow. It usually is this election cycle,” Mahle said. “Usually at dinner time and right after work, things start to pick up. But, it has been slow this time. Usually, we have a hundred by now, at least even in previous years, but this year seems much slower.”

Despite the pace, the day wasn’t without excitement. The precinct played host to a first-time voter, and as Mahle and her fellow board members say, that – in itself – is cause for celebration.

“We had one new voter, first time voting, so that was exciting,” Mahle and her peers said. “He was very excited to vote because you still need to vote. If you want to have an opinion, you need to vote. It does matter. Everyone’s important.”

The same sentiment was echoed in Oil City’s 4th Precinct, where voter turnout was low, as well.

“It’s been slow to medium. About the same as last year,” said Judge of Elections Margaret Armstrong. “We’ve been getting primarily middle-aged and older. It’s been about the same as the last primary, all things considered.”

Despite this, however, the precinct offered plenty of other incentives for voters – namely treats and snacks, courtesy of the Free Methodist Church of Oil City, which served as the precinct’s voting place. Leah Gesing, a volunteer for the church, said they have made it a tradition in providing refreshments for its voters, and that it is their mission to make every person’s voting experience a welcome one.

“We greet them as they come in and welcome in, and then direct them if they need direction to come in here to vote,” Gesing said about their welcoming process. “When they leave, they can have a cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and a little goody.”

“(We) used to hand out gifts, like maybe a comb or hand sanitizer or a candy bar. Then (we) went to this, and this has been quite popular. We have people that volunteer from the church for the whole entire day to come in and greet people, so it is a nice ministry.”

In addition to the light turnouts across the county, a constant theme of the day pertained to a lack of representation from the 18- to 30-year-old demographic. Though numbers remained relatively small throughout the course of the day, some precincts were fortunate enough to receive the younger vote.

Shaela Whiting, a volunteer poll worker at Franklin’s 2nd Precinct, was one such voter, who cast her first ballot as a registered voter. As Whiting notes, voting is a very important duty to both her and her family, and Tuesday’s election was no exception.

(Pictured above: Shaela Whiting casts her vote at Franklin City Hall during Tuesday’s election. Whiting, who volunteered as a poll worker for Franklin’s 2nd Precinct, voted for the first time in this year’s Primary election.)

“I like that I’m more aware than other people my age, and I kind of know what’s going on, and I’m not oblivious,” Whiting said. “Nobody seems to care. I voted for the first time today. I just think it’s a good thing to do, and I wish more people my age cared.”

Whiting hopes that by partaking in the electoral process, she will be able to set a precedent for people her own age to contribute in the voting process, as the up-and-coming generation becomes more and more important in elections to come.

“We are the future, so we need to know what’s going on, what’s happening,” Whiting said. “Even if we don’t agree with everything, it’s still important to know what’s happening.”

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