Sanitizer in tow, voters show up for Bucks County special election amid coronavirus fears


BENSALEM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — At Robert K. Shafer Middle School in Bensalem, Rachel Fosmark and Ted Crowther were immediately greeted with gifts.

“We were handed a bottle of hand sanitizer as soon as we entered the building, so everyone gets a ‘K.C. Tomlinson state representative hand sanitizer,’ ” said Crowther.

They showed up to perform their civic duty for a special election in Bucks County to fill a vacant state House seat. Republican Gene DiGirolamo gave up his seat when he was elected to the Bucks County Board of Commissioners. 

Despite Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for people to avoid gathering in large groups and to close non-essential businesses, the special election went on as scheduled.

Democrats called it an “outrageous risk” to poll workers, many of whom are among those most at risk to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. 

Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai reassured that the polling places would be clean. Not everyone was satisfied.

Jim Hunnewell, 67, apparently didn’t see the freebies of hand sanitizer going in, but, more importantly, he said he didn’t see anyone wiping down tables and equipment, as promised. That made him a bit nervous.

“I am a diabetic and I have cancer, so I’m very much in the vulnerable population, and I still feel it’s my duty to vote so I came out,” he said. “And I feel like they’re compromising us.”

Judge of Elections Steve Pawlowski insisted everything was being wiped down on a regular basis. and that, in most cases, voters don’t even touch anything.

“They get handed a ballot, they fill in the ballot, and then they put it in the machine. It’s all hands-free,” he said. “Nobody’s touching anything, for the most part. Anything that is contacted, we continually wipe down. We even clean our pens.”

Republican Tomlinson is up against Democrat Harold Hayes in the special election.