Light turnout for heavily contested Philly district attorney’s primary race

 Feltonville voter Hamdy Ibrahim went for El-Shabazz. He votes for candidates who he believes most fear God, and act for good of community.  (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Feltonville voter Hamdy Ibrahim went for El-Shabazz. He votes for candidates who he believes most fear God, and act for good of community. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Turnout at the polls has been sparse for the primary elections in Pennsylvania. Even in Philadelphia where a hotly contested Democratic primary race for district attorney is coming to an end, voters found they could breeze in and out in no time.

Hamdy Ibrahim of the Feltonville neighborhood voted for Tariq El-Shabazz because he was “looking for someone who serves the community, is God-fearing, and works a good work.” Ibrahim said that describes El-Shabazz, the only African-American in the running.

In East Falls, Marvin Kenze voted for Rich Negrin, partly because he’s from the neighborhood.

“I liked his background, his story, his family, stuff like that,” Kenze said.

0Marvinx600Marvin Kenze, a democrat who voted for Rich Negrin (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Michael Johnston said he found out about the primary Monday — because Facebook alerted him. He said he quickly did some reading about the DA candidates and settled on Larry Krasner, who has spent his career as a defense and civil rights attorney, not a prosecutor.

Johnston said he liked Krasner’s critique of the criminal justice system.

“We’re just locking people away for minor offenses just to fill up the prison industrial complex,” he said.

Other Democrats in the district attorney’s race are Teresa Carr Deni, Joe Khan, Jack O’Neill and Michael Untermeyer. The winner will face Republican Beth Grossman on the November ballot, but, because Democrats greatly outnumber GOP voters in the city, the Democratic nominee is likely to be Philadelphia’s next district attorney.

The Philadelphia controller’s race is also hotly contested with Rebecca Rhynhart — city treasurer, budget director, and in a new post called chief administrative officer — challenging incumbent Alan Butkovitz. The winning Democrat will face Mike Tomlinson, the uncontested Republican.

Keeping tabs on voting

Meanwhile, those in the district attorney’s office were keeping a close watch on polling.

The office is ready to take reports on any type of election tampering and illegal activities at or around the polling places, said office spokesman Cameron Kline.

“The Philadelphia district attorney’s office has an election fraud task force. If [voters] see or experience fraud at the polls, they can give us a call at 215-686-9641,” he said.

Assistant district attorneys are stationed at Election Court and around the city to monitor the voting process.

The polls are open, so vote, and if you see fraud at the polls call the Election Fraud Task Force at 215-686-9641, 9643, or 9644. #EFTF

— Philadelphia DAO (@Philly_DAsOfc) May 16, 2017

“Some of the things we often hear about are illegal electioneering at the polling places,” Kline said. “Sometimes it’s an issue of illegal assistance at the polling places, and a various number of other things that could come up.”

Kline said this is the first year in recent memory the office is not partnering with the watchdog group the Committee of Seventy. It’s handling complaints on its own.

Pat Christmas of the Committee of Seventy said they have had more than 8,000 views at its website as of 8 a.m.

National implications

Johnston, a former Republican, said he switched his registration because he didn’t “like the direction the Republican Party is taking, infringing on water rights.

“I don’t like what they’re doing with the EPA, about what they’re doing about government regulations that keep us safe,” he said.

0NWKMVirginiax600Virginia Henniger outside of her polling place at Abington Friends school. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

National politics was also on the mind of Virginia Henniger of Jenkintown in Montgomery County.

“I’m just interested in that the Democrats win and the Republicans get thrown the hell out,” she said.

The 84-year-old Democrat said her family is evenly split between the two parties … and they keep the peace by avoiding politics at the dinner table.

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