Pennsylvania polling places slowly getting power back

Posted: November 04, 2012

Storm-related election problems in Pennsylvania are limited to a shrinking list of polling places without electric power - about 250 statewide as of midday Friday, but dropping hour by hour.

Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said Friday that electric utilities had checked the status of all 5,900 polling places in the state.

"They have all pledged that, after hospitals and nursing homes and public-safety facilities . . . they'll make these polling places a priority," Ruman said, adding that the utilities expected to have all polling places online by Election Day.

In Montgomery County, spokesman Frank Custer said 14 polling places had power problems as of Friday morning, four of them in Lower Merion Township and the rest spread around the county. Peco expected to clear them well in advance of Election Day, but the county was planning to use generators or alternative polling places if necessary, Custer said.

Bucks County election officials reported more than 20 polling places without power as of Friday afternoon, but they expected dramatic improvement over the weekend, county spokesman Chris Edwards said. Officials said they would reevaluate the situation Monday before relocating any polls.

Philadelphia election officials said that they had five polling places without power as of Friday morning but that Peco was expected to restore electricity by Saturday.

A more significant storm-related problem was a two-day suspension of voting-machine deliveries, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt said. He said the city Managing Director's Office had done "a phenomenal job" helping the commissioners get back on schedule by opening schools at nights and on weekends to handle deliveries.

It took "extra hours, more trucks, more drivers," and ultimately to cost taxpayers more money - about $30,000, Schmidt said.

Schmidt praised election workers for ignoring the storm to keep working on a backlog of voter registration and absentee ballot forms, finally cleared up Friday.

"I don't think you could ask more of people than to come in during a hurricane," Schmidt said.

Chester County reported no storm-related problems with election preparations. Delaware County officials did not respond to queries.

Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or

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