Expert thinks presidential passions could drive Pa. and NJ voters to polls

Tim Jimenez
November 05, 2019 - 6:50 am

UPDATED: 11 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Polls opened at 6 a.m. in New Jersey and 7 a.m. in Pennsylvania.

Typically, for these off-year elections, 20% to 25% of voters come out in Philadelphia, according to Pat Christmas, the policy director with the nonpartisan political watchdog Committee of Seventy. 

The voters who spoke with KYW Newsradio say poll numbers should be higher.

“We vote every election day, every primary. I vote regardless. It’s our duty," said Old City voter Bill McNett. "Because it's part of who we are. We're Americans. We should be voting. We have to exercise that right."

Voter Angeles Gonzalez-Prado felt similarly. 

"I don’t miss a single election. I think it's a privilege and a right and an obligation for a citizen. It's the least we can do," she said.

There are those, however, who don’t feel the same way. Voter Terry Andreozzi knows it all too well.

"My husband, I think he's kind of on the fence," she said. "I'm like, I still need to get here and make sure every vote is out there. Especially anticipating next year, I need to see numbers today."

She said she's hoping for a really good turnout, people energized ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Christmas suspects she may have reason that for those hopes. He says it's possible that passions around the 2020 election may get more people to the polls this year.

"Given the larger political context we're seeing where there's certainly a lot of energy around D.C. politics that is impacting both Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, turnout could be a bit higher than usual," he said.

Some voters said the 2020 election didn't influence them much, while othere said it does give them a little more conviction.

Either way, those we spoke with say these local elections are critical, because the consequences effect everyone in their community.

"Education, their health care, the economy, everything," said Gonzalez-Prado.

"Most government services that folks see on a daily basis are administered by those offices, and the school board elections that are gonna be happening in the suburbs, they're very much a big deal," said Christmas.

Voters across the city were dealing with new voting machines at their polling places, as well.

"A little confusing," said Andreozzi, "but they explained it to me, which helped. And the lighting, I guess they need better lighting, because they said 'Check the ballot,' and it was hard to see it."

McNett had an easier time. "They're great," he said. "Easy. I love that it's paper. I like having a paper trail."

Mayor Jim Kenney, who's up for re-election today, cast his ballot around 9 a.m. at his Old City polling place, and also reported no trouble. 

"I thought it was pretty easy, actually," he said. "Was a little concerend about how they would work out, first time out, and they seem to be fine, yeah. Pretty easy process,"

Kenney says he is not concerned about his Republican opponent, Billy Ciancaglini.

And to those who don't vote to keep him in City Hall, Kenney said he'd be their mayor, too.

"I'll represent them as I represent the people who vote for me," he said.

If anyone has any Election Day issues, Christmas says they can call the Committee of Seventy office at 215-557-3600.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has an Election Day task force that will be out to respond to any reports of illegal activity, as well. They can be reached at 215-686-9641, 215-686-9643 or 215-686-9644.