Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

"Democracy Train" circuits Coatesville

Art Carey reports:

"Democracy Train" circuits Coatesville

Art Carey reports:

2:38 p.m.

In Coatesville, a "Democracy Train" -- a red trolley adorned with red, white and blue balloons -- was cruising the streets from 1 to 8 p.m. Eight circuits was the plan, as it stopped at 16 places throughout the city to pick up voters and drop them off at polling locations.

It was a nonpartisan effort, the idea generated by the Coatesville Area Voter Outreach Committee, in conjunction with a local grassroots effort, Chester County United for Obama. The committee's Kathleen Hood said it was funded with $1,000 raised in a September musical benefit. 

"This really is a once in a lifetime election," Hood said, noting the train was a nonpartisan trip.

Octavia Warren-Ward, rode the bus with her two daughters, Brittany, 11, and Jadean, 19, a sophomore at Lincoln University who is voting in her first election.

"I love it," said Brittany. "I love telling all the voters about Obama and how we're taking them to the polling place and back home again so they have a chance to vote."

Most recently, it was filled with uproarious kids, few of whom appeared to be of voting age. 

Amid an off-the-charts decibel level of young voices and Stevie Wonder turned up high, Kenneth Ward, a teacher from Washington, D.C., said the riders were some of his U.S. history students, from Paul Public Charter School.

A group of about 50 students left at 7:30 a.m. from Washington and plan to stay until 5:30 p.m.

They came to Pennsylvania at the invitation of the NAACP and the Obama campaign "because this is a swing state," Ward said, while Obama was expected to win easily in D.C. with 80 percent  of the vote.

Ward said the students were "loving it. This is a great chance to see the First Amendment at work, and the whole civic responsibility of voting."

The students, who were dressed in white shirts and ties, had no idea they'd encounter the Democracy Train. But they  were invited aboard, and as they went through the streets, adults came from their homes to wave and dance to the music.

One young rider, DeAndre Dozier, 13, said it was "a great experience to come and be part of a historic decision and help Obama become a great leader for America." He added, "my grandmother needs help with health care and getting medication, and taxes are very important right now, and he has better plan for that." 

Dozier said Obama's example inspired him, although not necessarily all the way to the White House. "I want to be a lawyer," he said. "But that would work, too."

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Thomas FitzgeraldThomas Fitzgerald joined The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000, and has covered Harrisburg as well as city, state and national politics for the newspaper. He was a “boy on the bus” in the 2004 presidential campaign and during primary contests in 2000 and 1996.

Nathan Gorenstein has covered politics and government in the city, state and nation for the Inquirer. He's worked in the city hall bureau, had a stint on the business desk, and once covered the suburbs. After serving as assistant regional editor, he was named editor of the "Politics" web site.

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