To vote is to use one’s political voice, and even though a small number of voices spoke Tuesday, it was enough to carry the county through another primary election.
Of the total 83,963 voters registered to vote in this election, 13,167 ballots were cast, according to the Centre County Office of Elections. This resulted in a voter turnout of about 16 percent.
Jerry McGinnis, minority judge of elections at the Oakwood Presbyterian Church in Patton Township, said early Tuesday that roughly 20 voters an hour were coming through the polling place. He said last year’s high school referendum may have been responsible for a higher turnout.
“They felt that it was something important for them to have a say in,” McGinnis said.
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Most row office candidates ran unopposed. A pair of races, however, did capture the attention of Centre County voters. Dueling Republicans for register of wills and county sheriff offered the greatest competition in this year’s primary.
With all 91 county precincts counted, Bryan Sampsel topped opponent Richard Swank for the sheriff nomination with 4,610 votes to 2,152. Likewise, Christine Millinder scored the nomination for register of wills over opponent Hope Miller, 4,188 to 2,774. Sampsel will face Democratic challenger Matthew Rickard in November, while Millinder will face Democratic challenger Amanda McCartney.
Democrats Mark Higgins and incumbent Michael Pipe will face Republican incumbents Steve Dershem and Chris Exarchos in November for seats on the Board of Commissioners. Higgins and Pipe gained 3,429 and 4,530 votes respectively; Dershem and Exarchos gained 6,004 and 5,060 votes respectively.
Democrat Georgiann Bennett will face Republican Joseph Davidson on the recorder of deeds ticket in November. Bennett won 4,320 votes, while Davidson won 6,090 votes.
Chuck Witmer gained 6,250 votes on the Republican ticket for controller, while Richard Fornicola gained 6,503 votes on the Republican ticket for treasurer.
Debra Immel garnered 4,719 votes on the Democratic ticket for prothonotaryand Scott Sayers garnered 4,821 votes on the Democratic ticket for coroner.
District Judge Tom Jordan will run unopposed in November, emerging victorious on both sides of the ballot.
Voters were also watching the State College Borough Council race, as several members are not running for another term. Five nominees ran on the Democratic ticket, with Cathy Dauler, Jesse Barlow, Janet Engeman and David Brown earning enough votes to secure the four open slots.
Bellefonte Borough Council’s 3rd Ward seat was also contested, with challenger Joanne Tosti-Vasey topping incumbent President Frank Halderman 66 to 39.
In other contested races, Kimberly Hearn, Bob Lumley-Sapanski, Hope Boylston and Daniel Miltenberger were the top vote-getters on both the Democrat and Republican tickets for five open seats on the Bellefonte Area school board. John Elnitski Jr. picked up the final Democratic spot, and Rob Pacella gained the last Republican opening.
Douglas Bierly came out over James Smith on the Republican ticket for Gregg Township supervisor 101 to 74. Glenn Hackett Jr. topped Emanuel Yoder on the Republican ticket for Howard Township supervisor 48 to 43.
Voters in Huston Township voted 152 to 91 in favor of allowing liquor sales at the Skytop Mountain Golf Club in a special referendum.
Election results remain unofficial until certified by the county Board of Elections.