Monday, December 22, 2014

Near Temple University: Lawn chairs and hot dogs

David O'Reilly reports:

Near Temple University: Lawn chairs and hot dogs

David O'Reilly reports:

10:06 a.m.

The polling place at Dendy Recreation Center near Temple University had four voting booths, but just two polling officials as of 9 a.m., and they were asking for ID from all who presented themselves to vote.

By then about 200 people were in a long line running  around the corner at 10th Street and about 75 yards down Oxford Street. It was moving slowly — about 100 feet per hour.

Kendrick Davis, a mechanical engineering major at Temple University whose home is Pittsburgh, arrived around 5:45 a.m., when the skies were still dark and the line held just 12 would-be voters.

“I’ve got early classes,” Davis, 21, explained. “And I want to do my part to make history.”

Two hours later a poll observer handing out bottled water explained he was “just trying to help out, to make things less tedious so people stay in line.”

And 18-year-old Terence Fitchett, a Temple student and Obama supporter, was strolling the sidewalk with a bullhorn, shouting “Oh, Oh, Oh, Obama; Oh, Oh, Oh BaRACK Obama.”

“One of the organizers bestowed this on me,” Fitchett said with a laugh, adding that he’d never used a bullhorn before. “My job is to keep the crowd wanting to vote,” he said. “People will wait on line to see ‘Batman’ or buy sneakers. So they should take as long as it takes to vote.”

Across the street, homeowner Gregory Mitchell, 58, had set up plastic chairs on his front lawn for seniors waiting on line. A dozen hot dogs were sizzling on his charcoal grill.

“I’ve been doing this for every major election since I was 14,” he said.

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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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