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Lehigh Valley Election News

At the polls: A DJ tried drumming up interest. He had his work cut out for him

Deejay at the polls on Election Day
Micaela Hood
Sheldon Allison, aka DJ Quickdraw, plays music on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, outside the polling place of St. John Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — As music blasted from the speaker, Sheldon Allison grabbed the microphone and sent out a hype message on Pennsylvania's Primary Election Day.

“I’m here to get you excited about voting, everybody’s vote counts,” Allison, aka DJ Quickdraw, exclaimed in front of St. John's Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

The Easton DJ was hired by DJs at the Polls, an organization founded in 2020 by Anton Moore. The nonpartisan group places deejays at polling places around the country as a way to encourage voters on Election Day.

Despite his upbeat energy, Allison, who started his first four-hour set early Tuesday at the Fearless Firehouse Company in Allentown, noticed what many did Tuesday as they went to the polls — low voter turnout.

“I think people are just looking for more information. A lot of people haven't made up their mind," he said. "I think there's a lot on the fence. It’s early, so you want to give it a little more time to see which politicians really win you over and who you get comfortable with it.”

There are more than 8.7 million registered voters in Pennsylvania — about 45% Democrats and 40% Republicans.

But early Tuesday as polls opened, just a smattering showed up. It was a theme that continued throughout the day.

Tuesday voting
Micaela Hood
The Mount Bethel Volunteer Fire Co. in Northampton County was quiet as polls opened Tuesday for the Pa. Primary.

All eyes were on Northampton County, after a flaw in voting machines during November’s municipal election forced multiple polling places to turn to emergency paper ballots.

But no major issues were reported, and with light turnout, poll workers at several county precincts told LehighValleyNews.com that things seemed to be going smoothly.

At about 2:45 p.m., Northampton County spokeswoman Brittney Waylen said the day so far had proven to be quiet and uneventful.

The county has completed the pre-canvas on about 20,000 mail-in ballots that had arrived by the start of the day, she said. As part of the pre-canvas, election staff scan ballots through tabulating machines, but a report on the outcome isn't run until after polls close at 8 p.m.

Slow morning

In Lower Saucon Township’s District 1 in Northampton County, only four people had voted at Saucon Valley High School between 7 and 8 a.m., poll workers said.

The same scene played out about 32 miles north, with only a few voters seen walking in to cast ballots at the Mount Bethel Volunteer Fire Company on North Delaware Drive in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

In the 2022 midterm primaries, turnout was about 15% of registered voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

About 42% of votes in the Democratic primary that year were cast before Election Day, compared with about 11% in the Republican primary.

“I voted to protect our rights and freedom."
Mason Scobo, 18, a senior at Nazareth Area High School

As of April 18, a total of 413,952 ballots had been cast before Election Day this year, according to the Associated Press. About 73% were from Democrats and about 26% from Republicans.

Voter Tricia Viglione showed up in person to vote Tuesday in Mount Bethel.

“I think it is important that everyone vote today, just to turn our county around,” she said.

At Bethany Church in Lower Macungie Township, turnout was slightly more robust. About 60 Lehigh County voters had cast ballots just before 9 a.m., or about 30 per hour.

And election officials said just over 100 people had voted at Butz Elementary School in Bushkill Township by 9:30 a.m.

Joined by his parents, Mason Scobo, a senior at Nazareth High School, was all smiles as he cast a ballot for the first time.

“I voted to protect our rights and freedom,” the 18-year-old said.

Another voter, Tom Starner, cited crime, inflation and immigration as his top reasons for voting and said he was supporting Republican David McCormick for U.S. Senate.

McCormick is running unopposed in the GOP primary and will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in the fall.

Many races uncontested

Only a handful of races are contested in the primary. Perhaps the most prominent is the race for Congress, where three Republicans are seeking the party's nomination to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley, in the fall.

"You need to vote, or you can't say anything," said Suzanne Powrie, of Lower Macungie. "If you don't vote, you can't complain."

While Powrie wasn't eyeing any particular race, she noted an overall lack of choices available.

She also said, "You'd think in a country of 370 million people, you would have a bigger percentage of people willing to participate (and run for office)."

Tuesday voting
Molly Bilinski
Signs outnumbered voters at the polls Tuesday morning at Saucon Valley High School.
Registered Democrats and Republicans will pick their candidates for president, Congress and the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday. There are few contested races, but that will change in November's general election.

Lehigh County Commissioner Ron Beitler was also out at the polls and said he was closely watching the race in the 7th Congressional District, where Kevin Dellicker, Ryan Mackenzie and Maria Montero are seeking the Republican Party's nomination.

"I'm supporting Kevin Dellicker," Beitler said. "His resume is impressive compared to his opponents."

Beitler also noted Dellicker is a veteran and business owner, as well as an "outsider" who isn't entrenched in politics.

Glenn Geissinger, chair of the Northampton County Republican Committee, said he anticipated the three-way Republican primary to draw out motivated voters. But reality didn't live up to those expectations.

"I've been to 14 different polling places, and turnout appears to be light, unfortunately," Geissinger said in the afternoon.

The 7th Congressional District covers all of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties plus a sliver of Monroe County. With nearly equal numbers of registered Democratic and Republican voters, the district is considered a political battleground and could hold the key to control of PA-7.

All systems go, so far

Northampton County's vote was under added scrutiny because of issues in the last election.

A Votebeat and Spotlight PA investigation into the county’s preparation for last November’s election found that its testing documentation was incomplete, inconsistent, and in more than 150 cases missing entirely, making it difficult to prove that it tested its machines correctly.

Earlier this month, a throng of onlookers watched as election workers in Easton tested voting machines — they worked.

By noon, 122 people had voted at Green Pond United Methodist Church in Bethlehem Township, according to poll workers.

Other spots across the county appeared to have no issues as voters trickled in. And trickle might have been an exaggeration.

Even in Easton, where state Rep. Bob Freeman is facing a primary challenge from city Councilwoman Taiba Sultana on the Democratic ticket, voters at the polls were few and far between.

Easton's 3rd Ward polling place at Kirby Sports Center on College Hill had just 23 voters by lunchtime. In the 8th Ward — part of the city's West Ward neighborhood — fewer than three dozen people had voted in-person in both the east and west districts, according to poll workers.

Don't mail your mail-in ballots

In order to be counted, mail-in ballots must either have reached the county election office or a drop box by 8 p.m. when polls close.

For those who still have a mail-in ballot in hand, it should be delivered in person, or deposited it in a designated drop box. For a rundown of ballot drop boxes in Lehigh and Northampton counties — or anywhere in Pennsylvania, for that matter, check out this link.

Once polls close, check here for election results.