One voting division posts impossible results

A voter carries her ballot at the John C. Anderson Cultural Center polling place on Tuesday. The "gender gap" may have contributed to Obama's success. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ Staff Photographer

Wait ‘til Rush Limbaugh hears about this!

Preliminary vote counts drawn from Philadelphia voting machines show one division in the southwest section of the city where more people voted for President  ­-- 245 votes total ­-- than the number registered to vote,  just 211 people.    An unbelievably high turnout rate of 116 percent! 

More evidence of Philadelphia vote fraud?  Not likely.

A closer look at the situation reveals that the hyper-active voters in the 47th division of the 40th ward voted in the same polling place, the Paschallville Library at 6942 Woodland Ave., as the 33rd division.  And in the 33rd division, the recorded turnout was among the lowest in the city, 166 votes for president out of 472 registered voters, or 35 percent.

What happened?  The poll workers at the library switched voting machines when they set up their Election Day operations.   Every voting machine in the city was set up in advance to handle voters from a particular division. But on Election Day at the library, when the poll workers were setting up their tables and machines to check voters in, they sent 33rd division voters to vote on the 47th division’s machine, and vice versa.

Combining votes from the two divisions, there were 411 votes cast for President among 683 registered voters, a  turnout rate of  60 percent ­– exactly the same figure as the turnout citywide.

City commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, said the poll workers at the library realized on Election Day that they had switched machines and notified city election officials of the mistake.

Final turnout figures for the city won’t be known until late this month, when election officials expect to complete their citywide vote count, including absentee and provisional ballots.