Northeast Times

The River Wards stepped up on Election Day

A high­er-than-usu­al num­ber of voters from the River Wards hit the polls and ex­er­cised their rights last week. Here’s what many had to say.

While the 2012 elec­tion has passed, on the day when the fate of the coun­try’s lead­er­ship hinged on the people, they made them­selves count.

On Nov. 6, voters cast their bal­lots in school cafet­er­i­as, re­cre­ation cen­ters and Amer­ic­an Le­gion posts. Each polling place was staffed with an elec­ted “judge” – and in­di­vidu­al in charge of su­per­vising vot­ing, en­for­cing reg­u­la­tions and resolv­ing any is­sues – and sev­er­al poll work­ers.

Jim Adams, 71, a judge at the Brides­burg Re­cre­ation Cen­ter polling place, said that turnout was un­usu­ally high.

“It’s go­ing good. We got over 205 people out of 966 so far,” he said at around 11:30 a.m. on Elec­tion Day. “We usu­ally only get 170 to 180 people total, even for a pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. We don’t get a lot of people vot­ing, un­for­tu­nately.”

Over­all, ac­cord­ing to www.phillyelec­tion­res­ults.com, about 61 per­cent of the re­gistered voters in Phil­adelphia came out to the polling booths. The River Wards av­er­aged 54 per­cent of re­gistered voters par­ti­cip­at­ing, ac­cord­ing to num­bers avail­able at press time.

Phil­adelphia is di­vided up in­to 66 wards, which are di­vided in­to di­vi­sions, each of which had its own polling place.

“I think this elec­tion def­in­itely mat­ters,” said Car­rie Thompson, 25, a nurse from Brides­burg vot­ing for the first time, who cast her bal­lot for Pres­id­ent Obama. “In the past, I didn’t really see the dif­fer­ence one way or the oth­er. This year, there are huge dif­fer­ences between the can­did­ates.”

“I voted for the change that I voted for last time, when I voted for Obama. That change didn’t hap­pen. So I voted for Rom­ney,” said 52-year-old voter and Port Rich­mond res­id­ent Bri­an S., who de­clined to give his last name.

“I’ve got very mixed feel­ings. It’s my first time vot­ing and I got the wrong info about my vot­ing ad­dress,” said Frank Sty­pulkowski, 60, as he left the Samuels Re­cre­ation Cen­ter in Port Rich­mond to vis­it a dif­fer­ent polling loc­a­tion.

City Com­mis­sion­er Al Schmidt said a spike in pro­vi­sion­al bal­lot use this year likely could be con­nec­ted to changes in polling places. He said more than 800 polling loc­a­tions were moved since 2004 in or­der to find more han­di­capped-ac­cess­ible polling loc­a­tions.

“People think pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots or ab­sent­ee bal­lots aren’t coun­ted and don’t count un­less it’s a close race. That’s not true,” Com­mis­sion­er Schmidt said. “It’s not a mat­ter of wheth­er it’s a close race; every vote is coun­ted and every vote counts.”

Vot­ing this year re­quired push­ing but­tons on elec­tron­ic polling ma­chines, which was dif­fi­cult for some voters.

“It went well, con­sid­er­ing I don’t know any­thing about com­puters. I was a nervous wreck!” said one wo­man after vot­ing in Port Rich­mond.

The polling ma­chines store votes on memory cart­ridges. When polls closed, po­lice brought the cart­ridges to re­gion­al cen­ters around the city where res­ults were tab­u­lated in a com­puter data­base.

Most River Wards voters who spoke to Star said they voted to re-elect Pres­id­ent Obama.

“I voted for Obama,” said Martha Line­man, 69, a re­tired data entry clerk, after vot­ing at the Steph­en A. Douglas School in Kens­ing­ton. “I think he’s headed in the right dir­ec­tion. He in­her­ited a lot of prob­lems, and I don’t know if a new re­gime would make a big dif­fer­ence really.”

“We gave the oth­er guy eight years; we should give Obama eight years, too,” said Caitlin Brown, 22, of Port Rich­mond, a Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia stu­dent. “I don’t feel angry with the pres­id­ent, but I know some people do be­cause they don’t feel he’s done enough. But four years com­pared to eight years is not that long of a time.”

“I think he’s do­ing a fair job by giv­ing the eco­nomy a lot of at­ten­tion. He de­serves four more years,” said Troy Sut­ton, 51, a build­ing man­ager, out­side the Towey Play­ground polling place in Fishtown.

“I voted for Obama. It was more of not vot­ing for Rom­ney. That would be hor­rible,” said Tristan Atkins, 28, out­side the Bod­ine High School for In­ter­na­tion­al Af­fairs in North­ern Liber­ties.

“I want to see an­oth­er four years of the pres­id­ent we have now be­cause I think he’s on the up and up. Give him an­oth­er four years and see what he can do,” said Bob Muckle­ston, 31, of Kens­ing­ton, an em­ploy­ee at Sug­ar­House casino.

But Muckle­ston said the pres­id­en­tial de­bates need to be re­designed.

“Let us ask some ques­tions, and get the ques­tions we want asked answered. The town hall format is old,” he said.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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