A long line snakes around Benjamin Franklin High School, a polling place in Philadelphia.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Voters brave rain, long lines to make statements with their ballots

November 06, 2018 - 10:44 am
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PHILADELPHIA and CHERRY HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — It's Election Day, and it seems the one thing both parties can agree on is just how important it is for voters to get to the polls. KYW Newsradio reporters were out at polling places in the region talking to voters.

The line at the Parkway House on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Art Museum, started at 7 a.m., just as voting opened in Pennsylvania. People stood in line for more than a half hour. Poll workers said it's one of the largest turnouts they've seen during a midterm election.

"I always feel it's important to vote, but particularly now," said voter Andrea, who recently moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh, near where the synagogue shooting tragedy unfolded. "I used to live very near Squirrel Hill, and I believe that if someone else were in office, that would never happened."

She said, "I feel I need to make a statement. I am not happy with much of what is going on in this country today."

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Neighbor Rafael summed up what is motivating many voters. "This is a test of what our country is made of. I try to vote in most elections, but this one is clearly the most important of my lifetime, so I knew I hate to show up," he said. 

On the minds of other Parkway House voters: taxes, health care, insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, foreign policy, and civic discourse.

"Gun control. Gerrymandering. Climate change," said one voter. "The world we are leaving for our children is going to be terribly affected for our children because of our failure to act."

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Another said, "It annoys the heck out of me that the exact people who are voting for changes in health care have a health care plan we all wish we had."

"I date a Canadian girlfriend, and so I have to worry about NAFTA and the TM visa," said a voter named John.

"I am deeply concerned about the relevance of truth in our political discourse and the relevance of science and fact," said Rafael. "I think what's going on in terms of the overall dialogue is that people are just making things up, and that is really really bad for a democracy, because we have to have a common language, and that common language is reason and truth."

"This is our country. This is our future. This is our children's future and I want to look back and say this was all worth it. And I think we need to just care more," said another voter.

"You can't complain if you don't come out and vote."

Meanwhile, at Benjamin Franklin High School in the Spring Garden section of the city, where the line to vote wrapped around the building, a judge of elections responded with laughter to a question about voter turnout: Have you ever seen people care so much about midterms? 

"Ah, no," said Lisa Ernst. "We have an extra voting machine this time, because we are one of 10 precincts in the city out of over 1,600 precincts that they said was expected to have a higher-than-normal turnout." 

Voters at the school said they did not anticipate having to wait as long to vote in a midterm election as they did Tuesday morning. 

"I've lived here for a long time, so I've never seen this before. Usually I just walk in and, you know, I would have planned for it," said one voter.

"I think for 2016, the line was going around the corner when I got here, but, I mean, for a midterm, this is crazy. I mean, usually I can just walk right in here," said another.

"This is awesome, though," said another. 

"Might be a little late to work, though."

In Cherry Hill, election officials at the Carman Tilelli Community Center also said turnout was strong and steady. New Jersey voters were the first to cast their ballots in the region, when polls opened at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Voters from both sides of the aisle had a lot to say about what drew them out to vote early on a rainy Election Day. For one woman, it was health care. Another man said immigration. As for Sandy, “It’s the economy. It’s the economy, stupid.”

And she wants things to keep rolling.

"I really feel like this current administration is doing wonders," sandy said. "And if we could turn some things around in New Jersey and get some new blood in, I think things would work much better around here also."

But Joanna said: Not so fast.

"A lot of the change that has been made seems to go towards what benefits a very small part of this country, and I want to swing it to represent the other part," she said. 

Richard Eckard and his wife were among the first to vote. Immigration was the first thing Eckard mentioned. It sounded like President Donald Trump's message got through to him.

"Can't allow people to just walk into our country. Yeah, there are laws that say they can come in if they do it the legal way. But we've got caravans of people coming into our country from one place. As soon as they shut that down they’ll figure out another way to come in," he said.

On the other side, Sharon Summers says the president has taken things too far.

"I want to get back to normal and get rid of the absurdities that we're experiencing with this current administration," she said.

While this isn’t a presidential election year, many of the voters out on Tuesday morning certainly had the president on their minds.

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KYW Newsradio's Kristen Johanson reported from Fairmount, Hadas Kuznits reported from Spring Garden, Tim Jimenez reported from Cherry Hill.