Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Finally Over in Pennsylvania

By Patrick Kerkstra, Larry King and Sam Wood


The polls in Pennsylvania's hotly-contested primary are officially closed, ending a day marked by heavy turnout, last-minute appeals by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and sporadic complaints of voting glitches.

As the polling places began to shut down, voters in line by 8 p.m. were being allowed to cast their ballots.

Shortly before the polls closed, a Philadelphia judge rejected a request to extend the voting until 10 p.m. Responding to complaints from voter rights organization, Common Pleas Court Judge Ramy Djerassi said only three of 1,000 polling places had malfunctions, and that the problems promptly were corrected by elections officials.

But the advocacy group Voter Action had contended that scores of frustrated citizens had turned away without voting, stymied by broken machines and a lag in providing paper ballots. The city's leading election watchdog, the Committee of Seventy, countered that today's problems were relatively minor compared to past elections.

Throughout the day, turnout has appeared strong in most sections of Philadelphia and the suburbs. Election judges in many precincts said more voters had turned out to vote by noon than have normally shown up all day during a typical primary.

"It's been a mob scene," David Lipson, a Democratic committeeman in Upper Merion Township said just before noon.

Both Clinton and Obama chose to spend the final hours of the Pennsylvania campaign in the Philadelphia area. Clinton stumped in Conshohocken this morning, stopping by Bocella's Restaurant for a chicken cheesesteak. Clinton likely won't appear in public again today until the results are in tonight.

After a morning stop in Pittsburgh, Obama arrived in Philadelphia and promptly got a cheesesteak of his own. He passed by Geno's and the "speak English" controversy in favor of Pat's King of Steaks. Obama got a wiz wit', and ate it all, before motoring off to a barbershop in West Philadelphia.

Obama's backers seemed to be everywhere in Philadelphia, including outside Clinton's election party headquarters at the Bellevue Hotel on Broad Street, where they chanted "Barock the vote, don't forget to vote."

Clinton supporters might have been quieter, but they were plentiful.

In tiny, tony Jenkintown - where poll workers were wondering how they would cope with the afternoon rush - John Drees said he was casting his ballot for Clinton.

"I'd be perfectly happy to support Obama but I think Clinton is more electable," said Drees, 65, a retired Temple University professor.

Republicans, however, seemed to be in short supply at the polls, which is no surprise, given that John McCain already has the GOP presidential nomination sewn up.

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