SWARTHMORE — Call it the Trump Effect.
At polling place after polling place, voters lined up in the rain Tuesday in a midterm election where turnout eclipsed anything in recent memory.
Unofficial results on Tuesday night showed that about 59 percent of Delaware County's 402,804 registered voters went to the polls.
The rainy, damp conditions did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of Delco residents lined up to vote Tuesday morning. Polling places across the county reported higher than normal turnout for the midterm elections.
Tuesday was historic as voters elected the county's first woman to Congress, Democrats Mary Gay Scanlon.
At Swarthmore Borough Hall, voting was heavy, with people already in line when the polls opened at 7 a.m. By 7:10 the line moved out the door. One voter cursed to himself and said, “I didn’t think it would be this long,” and left to get to work before casting his ballot. He hoped to return at the end of the day.
Swarthmore was a center of attention as Scanlon arrived there to vote with her family. A gaggle of press followed. One unhappy voter tried to push photographers out of the lobby until an election worker told him to be civil and that the press was permitted in the lobby.
Scanlon waited 25 minutes to vote.
Outside the polling place, Daniel Kim, a cousin of Scanlon's Republican foe Pearl Kim, joked with Scanlon about voting for Kim.
"I normally vote independent, but I'm out here helping my cousin," Kim said. "It's been good working with the Republicans, we all need to work together."
At Glenolden School things were quieter as poll watcher Carl Balis instructed voter Walter DeShields to make sure to vote for the congressional candidate twice - once in the special election to replace Pat Meehan in the 7th District seat, and again in the newly constructed 5th District seat. Meehan resigned his seat in late April amid reports he used taxpayer money to settle a harassment complaint filed by a former aide. The 7th seat has been vacant since.
The state Supreme Court threw out the old congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander and drew up new ones. All of Delaware County will now be in the 5th District, along with a sliver of Montgomery County along the Main Line, and a piece of south and southwest Phillly.
Jim Boathby, a Republican committeeman for the past 20 years, said turnout was heavier that normal but by 8:20 there was no line to vote at Glenolden School.
In Aldan, Republican councilmen Harry Short and Joe Connolly were handing out sample ballots at Alden Elementary School, site of two precincts as the rain began to fall more heavily.
“Everyone is anxious to vote,” said Short. “It’s unusual for a midterm and the weather doesn’t see to stop them.”
With umbrella in hand, Gene and Susan Scanlon were two of those voting. Asked if he was related to the congressional candidate Gene Scanlon chuckled and said no. He didn’t want to tip his hand on how he would vote.
In Lansdowne, the rain was coming down heavily as committeepeople Kate and Mike Schleigh huddled under their make shift umbrella.
Asked if they were Republicans or Democrats, Schleigh said they haven’t had a Republican representative handing out information in years.
“The line was 20 deep at 7 a.m.,” Schleigh said when asked about turnout.
His wife said they numbers were much higher than in the primary and in other recent elections.