Outrageous turnout

Anthony R. Wood reports:

At the Roberts Elementary School polling place, in the Wayne section of Upper Merion Township, poll workers were astounded at the turnout.

Roberts is one of the largest districts in Montgomery County, with about 2,200 registrants, and as of 7:59 p.m., 1,865 had voted -- virtually all the active voters, said David Lipson, a Democratic committeeman.

"That's outrageous," he said.

At 6:50 a.m., 10 minutes before the polls opened, the line snaked out the door, spilled into the school parking lot and extended all the way to the woods about 200 yards from the entrance, said voter Frank Fruedberg, who lives nearby.

Just as the doors were closing at 8 p.m., the number of voters inched past 1,865. The very last voter, Brenda Orach, 34, of King of Prussia, scampered out of a black Mercedes SUV, the door hanging open, and hustled toward the sign-in table.

After a brief conference, the election judge decided to allow her to vote, although the clock was perilously close to 8:01.

Orach had an excuse for being almost late. She had spent the day taxiing Lynne Lechter, a Republican candidate for the state house, from polling place to polling place.

She said if she had not been allowed to vote, she would have been devastated.

"This is history," she said.

In nearby Swedeland, a smaller precinct, the turnout was likewise impressive, at least by Swedeland's standards. Of 547 registered voters, 350 had shown up, said Barbara Lonchar, a veteran Republican committeeman.

Lonchar said she saw a lot of new faces this time around. She said she recalled elections in which 60 to 80 people showed up.

"This is phenomenal," she said.

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