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Newberry 3 a model of excellence

Even though they don't have the biggest polling place, the folks at Newberry Township's third voting district can certainly make do.

"We've always been able to make it work," said Colleen Marshall, a 20-year veteran pollworker at Newberry 3, located at the township's municipal building on Old Trail Road.

The modest space is maximized by two important measures.

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Upon entering the building, a hallway greeter first holds voters so there are not more than 10 in the voting space at a time. This allows for a better flow of people.

"It's up to me to be sort of crowd control," said Susan Hauser, majority inspector. She held up a sign denoting where people would line up based on the first letter of their last name. This helps prepare voters before reaching the sign in area.

Inside the township's public meeting room, residents navigate a user-friendly maze of tables whereby privacy is maintained because of the staggered privacy screens that are well-spaced and labeled with instructions. The tables stand on plastic risers, allowing voters to sit but encouraging them to stand. Most prefer to not get too comfortable, pollworkers said. This keeps the line moving through the path that even has neon tape with directional arrows.

Strings anchor Sharpies to the tables so the pens don't accidentally disappear. 

This set up was deployed during the special election on Jan. 14, when voters in 19 York County precincts as well as Lebanon and Dauphin counties elected a state Senator for Pennsylvania's 48th Senate district.

An expectedly low turnout -- around 14 percent -- voted across nine municipalities. With a presidential primary on the horizon and an even bigger general election come November, the folks at Newberry Township felt Tuesday's special election was an opportunity to have a trial run.

"It's good for us to figure out what's going to work in April and in the fall, which will probably be a bigger turnout," Marshall said.

It all comes down to establishing the smoothest way to move people quickly, even in a small space.

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