Philly church group goes door to door to get out the vote

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    A coalition of Philadelphia clergy members is trying to turn out 5,000 registered voters, house by house, in the city.

    With one week to go before primary day, members of the interfaith group POWER were knocking on doors in Northeast Philadelphia Tuesday.

    “We make the telephone calls,” explained Bernice Baxter, an assistant pastor at Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church. The canvassing is “just to get some face-to-face contact so people know that we’re real and we’re serious about the importance of the primary.”

    Baxter is fighting an uphill battle against voter apathy in an off-year election. In the last gubernatorial primary in 2010, only 19 percent of Philadelphia voters, a total of 198,000, turned out at the polls.

    For voters such as retiree Ines Ortiz, who said she will be at the polls by 6 a.m. to work as a translator, Baxter offered information on a ballot initiative that POWER supports.

    With enough voter support, the referendum is intended to, in effect, raise the minimum wage some city subcontractors would have to pay to their workers.

    Besides weighing in on other ballot measures, primary voters will choose their party’s candidates for Congress, governor and other state races. In Philadelphia, residents will vote for candidates to serve the remainder of an at-large City Council term.

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