Centre County has historic voter turnout

Hundreds of voters in Harris Township line up outside of Zion Lutheran Church to vote on Tuesday.
Hundreds of voters in Harris Township line up outside of Zion Lutheran Church to vote on Tuesday. adrey@centredaily.com

As Republican Donald Trump’s victory in Tuesday’s Presidential election continues to sink in, a closer look at the unofficial numbers released by the Centre County Board of Elections reveals historic voter turnout results.

Almost 77,000 voters cast their ballots in the county Tuesday, which is nearly 8,000 more votes than were cast in the 2012 presidential election when President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The previous high mark was set when just over 76,000 votes were cast in the 2008 election when then-Sen. Obama defeated Republican Sen. John McCain.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Centre County by less than 2,000 votes. But Trump’s 35,000 total vote tally in Centre County, the most by any Republican presidential candidate in the past five general elections, helped him to win the state.

While this historic election didn't bring the U.S. its first female president, there were some other firsts. Explore the results, reaction and history of Election Day 2016.

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said that the county was extremely pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm of the electorate. The county was prepared for the number of voters, Higgins said, but the voting was front-loaded and that led to long lines in the morning.

“We had polling places with 50, 75 and over 100 people in line before 7 a.m.,” Higgins said. “We had a couple of precincts where 50 percent of the registered voters turned out before noon.”

The long lines in the morning dwindled by afternoon and when the votes were counted another number stood out on the results page.

Centre County cast 1,147 votes for write-in candidates. That number is more than the past five elections combined. The next largest write-in tally was 348 in 2008.

The election results from each precinct are hanging on the walls of the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte. The results revealed the vast majority of the write-in vote went to Utah businessman and former CIA agent Evan McMullin. According to Joyce McKinley, director of the Centre County Board of Elections, all of the write-in names and official vote tallies will be released by the county in the next few weeks.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi