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ELECTION '09: Snafu inflates county vote totals (PA)
The Indiana Gazette. November 4, 2009
Original: http://online.indianagazette.com/articles/2009/11/04/news/10027439.txt

It could be easy to sing the praises of Indiana County voters' unexpected display of civic engagement Tuesday.

It's right there on the vote printout from the courthouse: turnout was 57.4 percent. That's 33,000 out of 57,468 registered voters.

But wait.

These totals are on the individual precinct sheets: Turnout in Blairsville 2 was 83 percent. East Mahoning had 88.1 percent.

It gets better. Smicksburg, 97.3 percent; Shelocta, 103.3 percent; and Cherryhill Township, 270.9 percent.

Is it worth noting that the number of voters was an even number in 61 of the county's 69 precincts?

Long before the final totals came out, some election workers at the courthouse had begun putting 2 and 2 together.

Or should that be 1 and 1?

Voters were given two paper ballots to complete on Tuesday, and the optical-scanning system apparently counted each piece of paper as one voter, courthouse workers theorized.

That could explain the unusually high turnout numbers across the county, but it doesn't account for a report of 642 ballots cast by 237 registered voters at Cherryhill 1. Even full turnout would have been just 474 pieces of paper.

While election workers try to figure that one out, the quick math here shows 33,000 ballots may actually have been cast by 16,500 voters, representing a 28.7 percent turnout.

The turnout rates for Indiana County in corresponding elections in the four-year cycle: 26.6 percent in 2005; 38.6 percent in 2001.

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