PINE TOWNSHIP — The line of voters at the Pine Township Community Building was out the door late Tuesday morning and into the parking lot, which was full.
People were also parking along Barkeyville Road, also known as state Route 208, and next door at the township municipal building.
Several voters said they had never waited in a long line to vote in previous elections. The average wait Tuesday morning was about a half hour.
“I’ve never seen it like this before,” said Donny Knight, a registered Republican.
Throughout Mercer County, turnout was reportedly strong during the day.
With 87 of 89 precincts reporting at 11:30 p.m., county residents had cast 55,389 ballots, including 14,844 eligible mail-in votes. Those totals do not include votes from Farrell’s 1-3 district and Hermitage’s SE-1 district, which were late turning in results.
Without any results from those two districts, Mercer County’s turnout was 75.4%, a figure that will increase when all votes are in and will be the highest in at least 16 years. Turnout in 2016 was 69.03%.
Thad Hall, Mercer County director of voter registration and elections, said the county’s voting operations went smoothly, especially considering the expected turnout.
“We were super busy with a lot of people calling,” he said. “We worked really hard. The staff did an excellent job.”
The strong turnout was the result of a pattern of high participation throughout the day.
Nichole Craig of the Shenango Valley Urban League said the election site at Farrell Middle School had almost an entire day’s worth of turnout by 10 a.m.
“They’re coming in three and five at a time,” she said
Craig was distributing personal protective equipment packets for voters during Tuesday’s election. All of the Farrell election locations were staffed with a volunteer or an employee from the Shenango Valley Urban League and a tub filled with bags containing personal protective equipment — including a mask and hand sanitizer — provided by the Urban League with a grant from the Buhl Regional Health Foundation.
In Pine Township, Amanda McClung, was checking out the action from her yard, where she was selling Tupperware.
“They’ve been lined up way up the road,” she said.
She voted early Tuesday morning and said the line started to form at 6:30 a.m.
Jane and Theodore Burke briefly spoke to Kelly while standing in line to vote at the church, where some people brought their own chairs to rest during long waits to vote.
They said the polling site has been busier than she has ever seen it.
“I’ve never had to wait in line,” Mrs. Burke said.
Monica Pryts and Eric Poole contributed to this story.