(WTAJ) — Counties across Central Pennsylvania saw a record-high turnout for midterms at Tuesday’s election, with some almost as high as Presidential elections.
The Bedford County Elections Office received ballots, both in-person and by mail, from just under 67% of registered voters. That’s compared to 75% in the 2020 Presidential election, 60% in the 2018 midterm and 44% in the 2014 midterm.
“It was heavier than expected. There was a lot of enthusiasm,” Board of Elections Chairman Deb Baughman said. “Although there weren’t as many yard signs out, and people weren’t speaking loudly about their preferences, our voters decided to come out and cast their ballot and have their say.”
Blair County had a wider gap with 60% of voters turning out this year compared to 79% in 2020, but it’s an increase from 57% in the 2018 midterm.
“In some areas, they were saying even more people voted in person than the Presidential election,” Commissioner Laura Burke said. “Turnout was really strong.”
Both Baughman and Burke think voters are paying more attention this year to issues like the economy, abortion laws and crime, and want to address their opinion with their votes.
They also think the different ways to vote might’ve convinced people who were on the fence about casting a ballot.
“There are people who feel strongly that they want to vote in their living room,” Baughman said. “There are others that take great pride in driving and going to their polling place.”
“The mail-in ballots really help people who maybe work off-hour schedules, maybe not during the day, so they can vote at their convenience and not have to take time off work to do that,” Burke said. “Or if you’re going to be out of town, but don’t fit into some of the categories for absentee ballots, now you can do it by mail.”
Baughman said her team and she are still working on provisional votes — ballots from voters who may have not been registered correctly, voted at the incorrect precinct, had an incorrect date on the ballot, etc. She said those votes, however, don’t count towards the turnout percentages anyway.
To see your county’s turnout and election results, head to your county’s election office website.