Live from Relish, Northwest Philly’s Election Day political hotspot

    The Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen near South Street has long been Election Day’s place for politicos to see and be seen. That continues to this day.

    However, state Rep. Dwight Evans has helped fashion another electoral hot spot at Relish restaurant on the same block of Ogontz Avenue as his West Oak Lane district office.

    To be sure, Tuesday saw a slew of names that would be bolded in a political-gossip column.

    In no particular order, Evans was joined by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Mayor Michael Nutter, City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, state Sen. Anthony Williams, City Council President Darrell Clarke, District Attorney Seth Williams and City Councilmembers Curtis Jones Jr., Marian Tasco, Bill Green, Maria Quinones Sanchez and Blondell Reynolds Brown among many others.

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    Also on hand was aspiring City Controller Bret Mandel who said turnout has been great today, but that it was a “little depressing” to think about how it won’t match these same numbers when he seeks office in May.

    Evans proudly pointed out two tables of international visitors who were observing the American political process with their own eyes for the first time (and tasting Relish’s menu, as well, since there was a large spread out in the Ogontz Ave. establishment).

    Voter ID remains a local and national issue

    For much of the afternoon event, the center of attention at Relish was national NAACP President Benjamin Jealous who spoke with NewsWorks about the voter-ID issue and controversy.

    Noting that the anti-disenfranchisement efforts have beared some successes, “There are still some concerns in Philadelphia.”

    He pointed out that while touring the city Tuesday, he had heard of several instances of misleading ID-requirement posters being posted in polling places. (An aide told NewsWorks that he would be emailing pictures of said locations this afternoon).

    Jealous said these issues are more pronounced in North Carolina.

    “There is more voter intimidation [in Pennsylvania] now than four years ago,” Jealous said. “Speaking with the head of the North Carolina Board of Elections, he said he has not seen this level of voter intimidation in 20 years.”

    Regarding the voter ID push, Jealous said “unfortunately, there are extremists in some parties who want to take shortcuts, people using the law to suppress the vote.” He said that sort of effort dates back to the founding of America when women, non-whites and men who did not own land were excluded from having a say.

    Nutter warns of long lines at night

    Mayor Nutter said that most voter-ID related issues had been addressed Tuesday morning, as far as he’d heard. When NewsWorks alerted him about the issue of an Obama mural inside a polling place, he noted that the judge was right to err on the side of caution and order it covered up.

    Speaking about turnout, Nutter said he was the 65th person to vote around 7:45 a.m. at John C. Anderson Cultural Center, 5301 Overbrook Ave. He had to wait a while in queue and pointed out that “I’m from West Philly. There is no jumping in line no matter who you are.”

    He predicted long waits during the dinner-time rush to the polls but urged voters to wait until they cast a ballot.

    “I’ve seen people wait in long lines for the lottery, especially when the Powerball is a big prize,” said Nutter. “A long line is worth it to get four more years of a great president.”

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