Count goes ‘smoothly’ in Venango County; turnout low in area

Voter turnout in the tri-county appeared to be low in Tuesday’s primary election.

Pennsylvania’s original date of April 28 for the primary election, a date postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, cut into the state’s role as an early decision-maker for the presidential candidate favorites.

The top two candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, had been decided as the presumptive nominees when the field was winnowed down by earlier state primaries.

That was a contributor to Tuesday’s lackluster ballot-casting.

In addition, few nominating contests were on the ballots. The exception was a crowded Democratic field vying for the state auditor general’s post.

In Venango County, election officials encountered no issues in the early vote count.

“Everything is going smoothly,” said Jamie Kirkwood, an election official, shortly after the polls had closed.

Kirkwood said the mail-in ballots, a collection that had soared into the hundreds, had been counted in a timely way. Results from the county’s 44 polling sites were also coming in quickly with Sugarcreek 2 as the first one to be tabulated shortly before 9 p.m.

Three-quarters of Venango County’s precincts had reported in by 9:30 p.m. Turnout was calculated at about 28 percent with Republicans listing a 5-to-3 margin over Democrats who voted.

In Clarion County, election officials were using a new vote-tabulating system for the first time Tuesday night.

Forest County, too, saw a major change. The county’s nine precincts had been temporarily consolidated into two polling sites because of inadequate space for social distancing in seven locations.

Voters cast ballots in Marienville and West Hickory.