CONEWAGO TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — No one will ever know how many people wanted to vote but couldn’t because of an hours-long road closure that severely limited access to a polling place.

What’s clear though, according to York County leaders: The impact could have been worse.

“It also brings to light the larger issue of public safety – so, if there was a life-and-death situation on that road and you had a fire truck or ambulance that needed to get through,” said Ted Czech, the county’s emergency management spokesman.

Czech said two separate road projects — one by a construction company and another by a contractor for a utility — combined to completely close Copenhaffer Road for the short stretch between Iroquois Drive and Stone Gate Drive. That was enough to prevent drivers from reaching the Conewago Elementary School polling place from the busy Susquehanna Trail.

“The construction company had the road down to one lane. So they had a detour, and they had one lane open” and had communicated those plans to Conewago Township, Czech said. “However, the utility company contractor abruptly shut the road down during the course of their work. They did not let anyone know about that. They didn’t let the township know. They didn’t let PennDOT know. They did not let York County 911 know that they had completely shut the road down.”

Czech said the county sent a letter last Friday to all municipalities reminding them about the election and the importance of polling place access. But that didn’t help, because no one knew the utility contractor would close the road.

He said an after-election task force will study what went wrong and develop a solution, which will likely involve deeper cooperation among all agencies — including utilities — that could potentially close a road. In a future situation similar to what happened Tuesday, someone aware of all planned projects could have prevented the unscheduled road closure not only because of the election but because of the potential impact (given the planned closure) on public safety, Czech said.

A judge issued an order on election night that allowed the polling location to remain open past the 8 p.m. deadline. County officials say one person voted during the extended period.

“Every vote counts and the decision to petition to have the polling place stay open was the right thing to do, irrespective of the number of voters who took advantage of it,” said Greg Monskie, the York County Chief Clerk and spokesman.