Checking in at the polls in NW Philadelphia

It was a slow start at many Northwest Philadelphia polls this morning and afternoon as poll workers waited for voters to trickle in.

At the Church of St. Martin-in-the-fields, only five percent of the site’s registered voters had come in during the morning rush – 35 out of the total 700.

At lunchtime, poll workers at Pastorious Elementary in East Germantown, reported a turnout of less than 10 percent of the site’s registered voters.

As of 2 p.m., only 44 voters (out of 600) had cast their ballots at Martin Luther King High School.

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Weak early showings had many poll workers banking on an afternoon or evening rush.

St. Martin’s in Chestnut Hill 

Tom Holly, judge of elections at St. Martin’s, said “If we get 100 people, it would be very, very good.”

Roberta Barsotti, a registered Democrat who voted at St. Martin’s, said she voted for Malik Boyd in the 198th District’s State Rep. race because she knew him when he was a teacher.

“He was a wonderful teacher and a lovely person,” she said, adding that she was saddened by the low turnout at the church.

“The Attorney General race, which is probably the most significant race, at least what people are paying attention to, even that has only kicked in very recently,” she said. “I think peple are just not aware.”

Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mt. Airy  

Although turnout at the Lutheran Theological Seminary was low, the conversation quickly switched to Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. Although the law is not yet implemented, today served as a trial run to have voters present identification at the polls.

Marilyn Lambert, Democratic committee person, said several people refused to show identification, which she viewed as a silent protest to the law.

Included in the mix of voters at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mt. Airy was a group of passionate voters from the retirement community of New Covenant Manor. One resident had just been released from the hospital two days prior. 

“They have to be in the hospital not to vote,” said Lambert, who fears that they, along with other senior citizens will be the most disenfranchised because they don’t drive. She added that many have traveled from southern states, so they don’t have birth certificates.

But Earlene Sharpe, a resident of the New Covenant House said she’s not opposed to the law and sees it as motivation for people to go out and get IDs.

“I don’t think the voter ID law will affect the residents because the people at the manor are on it and smart,” she said. “Even though they are older, they are very aware of what is going on.”

Pat Williams, a resident of the manor, said she thinks the photo ID requirement is an unnecessary law.

“I think it’s a ploy to block people from voting for Obama especially in urban communities,” said Williams. “If they don’t have proper ID, they won’t be able to vote and I think mostly black people will vote for Obama.

To combat the possible isolation of aging communities, Malik Boyd – who stopped at Lutheran Theological Seminary to talk with voters, suggested the option of setting up mobile units in the retirement home’s lobby to get their photos taken.

Roxborough fire house 

In Roxborough, State Rep. Pamela Delissio was one of the first to cast a vote at the fire station on Ridge Avenue. As the incumbent running for a second term in the 194th District, she spent the day visiting polling places and talking to voters.

“It’s tradition just to say hello,” DeLissio said.

DeLissio did not bring her ID as a protest to the voter ID law to be implemented in November.

“Just to order a birth certificate is a 12-week wait,” said DeLissio. “This eight-month time frame is ludicrous.”

If re-elected, DeLissio said she would focus on government reform in the areas of campaign finance and non partisan redistricting.

DeLissio is one of three candidates running for the state rep. seat in the 194th. Democrat Ray Bailey and Republican Linda Bateman are also on the ticket.

Journey’s Way in Roxborough 

Over at Journey’s Way in Roxborough, former State Rep. Kathy Manderino passed out information cards about DeLissio, stating her political party affiliation and ballot number. Manderino was working to clear up some confusion resulting in the Democratic paper ballots being handed out to Democratic voters. Those ballots did not include DeLissio’s name, or that of her party opponent, Ray Bailey. The paper ballots were produced and paid for by Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee.

“From what I understand, the party chairman asks the ward leaders who they want on the ballot,” said Manderino.

When asked why DeLissio’s name wasn’t on the Democratic ballot, Louis “Lou” Agre, the 21st Demcratic Ward Leader, replied that it was a decision made by himself and two other ward leaders.

“She wasn’t endorsed by the three ward leaders,” said Agre.

Two years ago, Agre lost to DeLissio in the race for State Representative in the 194th.

DeLissio said she learned that her name would not be on the paper ballot last week.

“We want to be done with this machine of politics,” she said. “I’m into integrity and independence not so much the unethical and immoral,” said DeLissio.

Inside the Rector Street building, Roxborough resident Mark Corbin was with his three- and nine-year-old sons to cast his vote and to teach them a thing or two about voting.

“I’m here to exercise my right to vote,” said Corbin, “and I want my boys to understand that it’s their right.”

One Roxborough couple said they have never missed voting in an election.

“My mother didn’t have the right to vote,” said Susan Simon, “people don’t take advantage of voting. This is the basis of democracy.”

West Oak Lane Library

A minor switch in West Oak Lane had poll workers and voters switching gears today. The polling spot at West Oak Lane library, located at 2000 Washington Lane, is now shared by both the 50th and 10th Divisions. The merge was made because the former 10th Division spot, Samuel W. Pennypacker School, located at 1858 E. Washington Ln., was not fully handicapped accessible.

Kia Geiger, judge of elections for the 10th Division/13th Ward, says the volunteers put out signage to point voters to the new library location.

“There was complaints about the steps,” said Geiger, “so they made the decision to move us here.”

Gwen Whaley, judge of elections for the 50th Division/24th Ward, says she expects about 200 voters at the library by the end of the day.

West Oak Lane resident Maurice Hayes said he is hoping for transparency in this next election. 

“There’s a lack of information,” said Hayes, “we don’t get the full picture until after the election. I want people in office who will be held accountable for their actions.”

Aaron Moselle contributed to this report. 

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