An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Primary Election 2024: Polls are open, turnout reportedly light

Campaign signs are seen outside the Lancaster Township 6th District polling place at New Life Christian Church on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Tuesday’s primary election was running smoothly in Lancaster County as of late morning, with officials reporting turnout on the light side.

At the Lancaster County Government Center, volunteers had opened about half of the roughly 20,000 mail-in ballots returned, Elections Chief Clerk Christa Miller said during a 10 a.m. media update. Scanning was to begin shortly thereafter, she said, and was expected to take no more than a couple of hours with the county’s high-speed scanners.

The county expects to begin posting results around 8:30 this evening. Miller said she’s confident her office will be able to complete the process tonight, tallying and posting complete unofficial results from mail-in and in-person ballots.

This election, the county is debuting its new election results website. Provided by vendor Enhanced Voting, it replaces a website created in-house that had become obsolete. The county commissioners approved the contract earlier this month.

The new website has enhanced features for the public, such as the ability to designate “favorite” races to track, and is easier for county staff to use as well, Miller and Commissioner Ray D’Agostino, who chairs the Board of Elections, said.

Lancaster County’s Elections Chief Clerk Christa Miller, at podium, gives an update on the primary election on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Looking on is Commissioner Ray D’Agostino, who chairs the Elections Board. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Under state law, the county will continue to accept military and overseas absentee ballots through April 30. They must be postmarked no later than Monday, April 22. Normally, there is only a handful of them.

Final results are then compiled and a risk-limiting audit conducted. The Elections Board anticipates certifying the election on May 13, Miller said.

Today’s election will determine the Republican and Democratic candidates for the general election this fall. While there are some hotly contested races statewide, that’s mostly not the case in Lancaster County. A notable exception is the 100th state House district in southern Lancaster County, where House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler is seeking to fend off challenger Dave Nissley.

For the county Elections Office, today is a dry run for the much larger election operation in November. Turnout in November 2020 was around 80%, and Miller said she’s expecting comparable numbers this year.

Among other things, she adjusted the layout of the pre-canvassing operation at the County Government Center to provide more space, and is evaluating whether it will be able to handle the volume of mail-in ballots this fall, or if a larger venue will need to be secured. In November 2020, during the pandemic, the county processed mail-in ballots in Freedom Hall at the Lancaster County Convention Center.