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Low voter turnout expected Tuesday

Municipal elections don’t generally draw a large turnout, but on Tuesday, the Penns Valley Area school board and the State College mayoral races are expected to draw the biggest crowd.

“These are probably two of the biggest races in the county that will really impact residents,” said Jodi Neidig, assistant director of the Centre County Elections Office.

Three at-large positions and two regional seats are up for grabs on the Penns Valley school board. In State College, incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Goreham is running for mayor against Republican Ron Madrid.

More voters are expected to turn out for Tuesday’s municipal election than did for May’s primary, when only registered Republicans and Democrats could vote.

However, the percentage is still predicted to be low. An estimated 15 percent of Centre County’s registered voters are expected to actually hit the polls Tuesday, Neidig said.

“It’s usually a low number with local elections. People seem to think it’s not important,” Neidig said. “I’d say its as important, if not more important, because residents are voting for the people who are raising our taxes, fixing our roads or making decisions for the school districts. They have more of an impact at the local level.”

Joyce McKinley, director of the county Elections Office, said voter turnout was just 23 percent for the last municipal election in 2011.

In 2012, 103,131 people in the county were registered to vote. By the beginning of this year, however, registered voters increased to 107,959, McKinley said.

“The presidential election was in November, so it jumped up and rightfully so, “ she said.

Sixty-two percent of voters in Centre County participated in that election, McKinley said.

On Friday night, absentee ballots would be counted, Neidig said. She didn’t have a number for how many ballots were in, but said there are usually about 200 absentee ballots with municipal elections.

Neidig said the Centre County Elections Office has been working hard trying to get things ready for Tuesday.

Equipment delivery to the polling locations began over the weekend, she said.

Everything is expected to be set up by Monday. On Tuesday morning before the polls open, workers will be at their stations. The elections office will be open an hour earlier to assist others, Neidig said.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Identification is required for first-time voters or those who have a new precinct.

For more information, visit www.votespa.com or call 355-6703.

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