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Voters Flooded Forks, Palmer Precincts

Turnout heavy in Forks and Palmer townships for presidential election on Election Day Tuesday.

The polls were packed Tuesday.

Throughout precincts in Palmer and Forks townships, voters showed up in full force for Election Day, showing the importance of having their say in this presidential election.

After two hours when the polls opened at 7 a.m., over 500 people had voted at the Forks Community Center in Forks Township.

"It's been busy. We've had a steady stream of people," said Jeremy Hylton, judge of elections at the community center.

The main issues, poll workers said, were people trying to figure out which polling place their address was located in and some registration problems regarding people moving or not being on the election rolls.

Poll workers were asking people for photo identification even though it's not required this year.

Renee Desai has lived in Forks Township for a decade. But she wasn't listed as registered and had to wait on the sidelines until a call was made to the Northampton County elections office to straighten everything out.

"I don't know what the problem is," she said. "I've voted every time before."

The Faith Lutheran Church on Sullivan Trail was a mob scene.

"I've waited an hour-and-a-half," said Ulla Reid. "The township got it wrong. Their doing a fine job, but there's too many new developments and they should have split this."

Henry Sandt, the judge of elections at the church, agreed.

He said the voting district needed to be restructured since the church had 3,000 voters in its precinct while others only had 800.

"I already have complained to the county election board, but they haven't done anything," Sandt said.

Sandt said the church was averaging about 115-120 voters an hour and the line was wrapped around the church outside with a parking lot offering few open spots.

"I don't see any relief," he said. "I expect it to be that way all night. That's how it is with presidential elections."

In Palmer Township, several of the township's seven polling places were operating smoothly during the afternoon.

The Palmer Elementary School on Greenpond Road was relatively empty.

A few people mulled around outside with one telling a voter who was returning after finding a crowd in the morning that there was no wait.

People voted in the school's library, which had a sign posted that said "Quiet Zone."

Meanwhile, at St. Paul's Third Lutheran Church in Palmer, the line had shrunk significantly compared to earlier in the day.

Nellisa Weidner, a Palmer resident handing about brochures about State Rep. Joe Emrick, said she had witnessed a steady stream of voters since she arrived right after lunchtime.

"This is the shortest I've seen the line," said Weidner, who hadn't voted herself yet. 

A sign inside, as voters approached before casting their votes, stated "ID Ready?"

State Rep. Joe Emrick, running for re-election, arrived at the Forks Community Center just before 7 a.m. as a frost covered the grass and car windshields.

Emrick was the only political representative greeting voters and that surprised him.

"It's packed," the Republican said. "Turnout has been incredible. It's the prework rush. You couldn't even find a parking spot."

"This is a big day," Emrick said. "At least the weather is beautiful. I'll take the cold. I feel good. We worked hard."

Sharon Davis, a Democratic Party Committeewoman in Forks, said she was pleased by the turnout in Forks.

"Both sides tried to mobilize voters," Davis said. "It's a typical presidential year. It's nice to see people exercising their right to vote."

Forks Township Supervisors Chairman Erik Chuss said the polls "have been very busy."

"The lines at the Forks Community Center were routed into the gymnasiums.  The Faith Lutheran Church went outside and wrapped around the building," Chuss said. "There has been a few minor areas of confusion regarding residents voting districts but they have been minimal and everyone has been very understanding. The parking lots at all the locations, including the Forks Elementary School, have been full."

Forks resident Brian Maffia voted at Forks Community Center and said he saw police handing out tickets for parking on the grass. He said there is no other parking and 95 percent of the voters are senior citizens.

"It's such a disgrace to see this," he said.

Jim English, a Forks resident, said the country needed to make a change at the top.

"I voted for Mitt Romney," English said. "He has a plan. The other guy doesn't. I voted for Romney because of the economy. With my job, I'm losing pay and benefits. Meanwhile everything else is going up."

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