Turnout light for Pennsylvania primaries

| Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 8:18 a.m.

In the marquee race of Pennsylvania's primary Tuesday, four Democrats are competing for their party's nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in November.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Only registered Democrats and Republicans may vote in Pennsylvania's closed-primary system. To find your voting precinct, visit www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx.

Only voters who are voting in person for the first time will be required to show photo or non-photo identification.

Balloting was light in Allegheny County's eastern suburbs this morning.

“This is the slowest I have ever seen it,” said Judy Diorio. She is election judge at the Churchill borough building, where voters from the borough's 1st District had cast 26 ballots as of 10 a.m.

Daniel Schcosky, 59, of Churchill was among those who voted.

“The governorship is important to me. The issue for me is the Marcellus shale I don't like what Gov. Corbett did with that,” he said, adding that he believes Democrat Rob McCord can address his concerns about the state's lack of a severance tax and what he sees as lax environmental oversight.

Several miles to the east in Monroeville's Alpine Village, only 13 voters had cast ballots as of 9:30 a.m.

“It's been pretty slow,” said election clerk Pete Scarano. “I think apathetic would be a good word for the turnout.”

In Westmoreland County, at Salem Township's Cloverleaf polling place, only 17 people had cast ballots as of 8:55. Election clerk Amy Thompkins said turnout is much higher in general elections and presidential primaries.

“Some years we have 17 people vote in the first 15 minutes,” Thompkins said.

County officials dispatched sheriff's deputies to stop campaigners from handing out sandwiches and donuts to voters at a polling site in the North Side.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul E. Cozza, who is presiding over the county's Election Court, issued an order to stop the activity at 601 Pressley St. in Deutschtown. Deputies were ordered to confiscate any food items found at the poll. Court officials said pollsters are not permitted to distribute anything of value at a poll during an election.

Sheriff's deputy Sgt. Kevin Faulds delivered the confiscated donuts and bagels to the Jubilee Soup Kitchen in Uptown.

Election officials said they received a similar complaint at the same polling site during last year's general election.

At the senior citizens center on Virginia Avenue in Mt. Washington, the electronic voting machines were not operable so paper ballots were being used as of 8:30 a.m.

In the governor's race, state Treasurer Rob McCord, former Department of Environmental Protection secretary Katie McGinty, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Philadelphia, and York County businessman Tom Wolf are the candidates still standing in what began this year as an eight-way primary.

None hails from Western Pennsylvania, but each candidate has campaigned in the Pittsburgh area to entice undecided voters.

Corbett of Shaler is running unopposed in the GOP primary.

The state Supreme Court on May 1 removed his opponent from the ballot because he missed a deadline to file a statement of financial interests.

Turnout was low at St. Alexis School in McCandless, said Dave Kusserow, judge of elections for the 1st and 2nd Wards in the 3rd District.

Between 7 and 9:25 a.m., 17 people had voted, poll workers said. St. Alexis is the polling location for about 1,750 registered voters.

“This is a primary. A lot of people don't turn out for the primary anyway,” Kusserow said.

Longtime McCandless residents John and Norma Petro, both 87, never miss an election, they said.

“We always vote in every primary. … It's our duty to get the right people in,” Norma Petro said.

They planned to vote for Corbett, they said.

“I think he's doing the job right now that addresses our problems,” John Petro said.

Other elections include primary races for U.S. House, lieutenant governor, state House, state Senate and hundreds of state, county and city-level political committee posts.

Trib Total Media staff writers Debra Erdley, Bob Bauder, Sam Spatter and Tory N. Parrish contributed to this report.

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