Just a trickle of voters show up at Northwest Philly polling places

About midday Tuesday, Althena Radford cracked open a log book and tallied the number of voters who stopped by to cast a ballot: 42.

There are nearly 700 voters on the books in her Germantown division of Philadelphia.

“I’m figuring if we get 100 we’d be doing good. I’m hoping for over 100. Usually we get over 200, but it’s so slow today. I don’t know,” said Radford, who has served as a judge of elections for nearly a decade.

Similar scenes played out at other polling places in Northwest Philadelphia — where voter turnout is typically high — during Tuesday’s General Election as city voters decided whether to re-elect the district attorney and city controller or bring in new blood.

At Germantown Christian Assembly in East Mt. Airy, Armstead King said he had time to catch up on some of the coursework part of his law degree. He was expecting fewer than a quarter of the voters in his roll book to show up.

“People feel like their votes don’t count. I don’t know why,” said King.

Ellen Kaplan, vice president of the Committee of Seventy, had a lonely civic moment Tuesday morning at St. Martin-in-the Fields, her Chestnut Hill polling station.

“I was the first person to vote, nobody was in line behind me and I didn’t see anybody walking up as I left the polling place,” she said.

Based on turnout totals from the past five off-year elections, Kaplan’s good government group is predicting that participation will be about 11 percent.

“What we have is voters turning out 26 percent in 1993; then at 22 percent in 1997; 19 percent in ’01; 13 percent in 2005; and 12 percent in 2009,” said Kaplan.

Election Day 2014 should bring a stronger turnout. Gov. Tom Corbett will be running for re-election and there’s already a crowded field of Democrats seeking to challenge him.

There will also be state legislative and congressional races to draw voters to the polls.

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