The line stretched from the rear entrance of Tilden Middle School, down 66th Street and around the corner on Elmwood. Up to an estimated 200 voters at a time stood patiently from before dawn to early evening and inched toward the early voting are inside the massive school building.
“This idea is definitely a winner,” said Southwest resident Darren who had been in the voter ranks for about an hour. “It is definitely worth a couple of hours over my lunch hour today, verses what I think is going to happen on Election Day!
Singly and in pairs and all masked and properly distanced, they inched forward toward the early voting location inside the building. Fortunately, 30 or so of them at a time were able to sit comfortably on folding chairs graciously positioned along the sidewalk by the Working Family Party representatives who maintained information tables a few feet from the main school entrance.
Southwest resident Nadia reflected, “This is probably going to be the most important election of my life. If lots of people turn out, we can have a change in the government that helps put an end to the pandemic!”
Some of the prospective voters who were enthusiastic about their presidential candidates carried colorful posters. This being Southwest Philadelphia where Democrats have a massive registration plurality, it was not surprising that red, white and blue Biden-Harris signs were the most prominent.
According to friendly Sharon Harris of the Working Family Party (“No relation to Senator Kamala Harris”), the voter registration applicants at Tilden numbered 400-500 a day – before that closed on October 19th. “We update the count every hour and they were running that same number by noon today now that all the people are voters. They processed more than 800 voters on Monday and the numbers are increasing every day.”
The lines hummed with informal conversations as prospective voters got to know the persons in front and behind them. In the background, Working Family Party was broad casting lively music. This week they have been providing free snacks and water and signs protesting the voter suppression efforts of at least one party.
Twice a day, Vote Inc has showed up with food trucks to help residents bear up during the wait.
Inside the voting area representative of the City Commissioners Office were handling 3 people at a time at the ballot locations.
Working Family Party is the grassroots organization that started backing candidates in the 2016 election and then stunned Philadelphians by electing Kendra Brooks to the at-large seat on City Council held open for minority parties – heretofore the province of city Republicans!
Upon questioning, a number of voters indicated they were aware of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to move deadline for counting mail-in ballots back to Nov. 3 (from Friday, November 6). They were concerned that the new Court with Justice Barrett on it has reserved the right to cancel that extra three days of counting!
Ms. Harris strongly urged voters to vote in person or deposit the mail-in ballot at one of the city’s 17 early voting locations or the 14 additional ballot drop boxes (for locations, visit https://billypenn.com) It is perilous to entrust it to the U.S. Postal Service at this late date – even though it is allowed (over 3 million ballots have been sent out to registered voters in PA for this National Election). She affirmed that even though voters have received their mail-in ballots, they can still vote in person. To do so, they must produce the mail-in ballot they received plus the two envelopes and fill in a provisional ballot form – which will slow down the voting process for others.
The City District Attorney’s office has put in place an Election Task Force to deal with any attempts at voter intimidation. Anyone who sees voter intimidation is encouraged to call the DAO task force at 215-686-9641. There is also a national election protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
The Committee of Seventy advises that it is always a good idea to confirm one’s polling place before Election Day.
Reliable information about voting may be obtained by accessing either: VotesPA.com or https://seventy.org/