Some Westmoreland polling locations stay open until 9 p.m.
By Jennifer Reeger and Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 8:24 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Turnout was heavy across Westmoreland County, where voters in some precincts waited in line for nearly two hours to cast ballots.
In Unity, Murrysville, Rostraver and numerous other large precincts, as many as 100 voters were in line at 8 p.m. Those polling places were kept open until the last voter cast a ballot, said county election spokesman Dan Stevens.
Unofficial results late Tuesday indicated that about 67 percent of the county's 238,000 registered voters cast ballots, less than the 72 percent who voted in the 2008 presidential election.
“There are a good number of precincts that will stay open,” Stevens said just before 8 p.m. “It's the most we've ever had due to the large turnout we've experienced.”
All polling locations closed by 9 p.m.
Earlier Tuesday, the line inside SonRise Church snaked through the lobby and down a long hallway like an amusement park ride queue.
“But there's nothing fun for her at the other end,” Amy Amond said about her 7-year-old daughter, Katelyn, who waited with her 1-year-old sister, Abby, for Amond to vote in the Unity precinct.
Throughout the day, voters and election workers reported heavy turnout and long lines that harkened back to 2008, when President Obama was elected.
Jon Winwood, 29, of Hempfield waited about 30 minutes to vote in the West Point fire hall. He said that's typical at the polling place in presidential election years.
“A day off work — what else would I rather do?” Winwood joked, as he stood in line outside the fire hall.
For poll workers, there was no break.
“We've been trying to move them through as fast as we can,” said West Point judge of elections Debbie Massafra.
The third time was the charm for Ted and Nancy Benson of Murrysville. The persistent couple went to Christ's Lutheran Church three times before the line dwindled enough that they could vote.
But they didn't mind.
“We like seeing it packed,” Nancy Benson said.
In SonRise Church, Amond said her husband, Chad, went to the polling place when it opened about 7 a.m. and waited for an hour and 40 minutes. She expected her wait with two of her daughters to be about 45 minutes.
“This is not too bad. At least it's inside,” she said.
At other sites, lines snaked outside buildings, though no one complained about the cool but sunny weather.
“There is no reason to stay home. It's not wet. There's a little nip in the air, but you put your jacket on,” said Paula Yablonsky of Murrysville, a poll watcher for the Obama campaign who was monitoring at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.
There, Chip and Beth Townsend waited about 45 minutes around noon to cast ballots at the precinct where they have voted for about 30 years.
“It's a much larger turnout than we've ever seen,” Chip Townsend said.
Judge of elections Jack Olhoeft said 150 people were waiting for the polls to open at 7 a.m., likening the turnout to 2008.
“It's been a madhouse ever since,” he said.
Jennifer Reeger and Rich Cholodofsky are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reeger can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6155. Cholodofsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-830-6293.
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