LIVE & DIRECT: From The Frontlines Of Democracy

JimmyOlsen01__1.pngBY NICK POWELL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT Today Philadelphians and Pennsyltuckians all across the fruited plain of the Keystone State help decide the future of our battered republic, as voters flock to their polling locations. From the hardscrabble row homes of North, South and West Philadelphia to the glass and chrome towers of Center City, Hillary and Obama signs dominated the city’s landscape, as the excitement level for both candidates reaches fever pitch after five relentless weeks of carpet-bomb campaigning.

In North Philadelphia, Obama fever seemed to mobilize the very young and the very old in exponentially larger numbers than in past elections, according to polling judge Mary Ann Wallace at 22nd and Huntingdon. “There’sdem-party-flag1-s.gif been a lot of younger people this election, but also a lot of older people,” she said. “Philadelphia is primarily an older generation of voters so they’ve been coming in too.” Mrs. Wallace went on to say that even those going through drug rehabilitation have showed up to cast their ballot, highlighting the importance of Philadelphia in the primary. Judith Jones, originally a Clinton supporter who voted for Obama at this polling location, discussed why she changed her mind. “Obama, he’s so well-spoken. I was for Hillary at first, but I listened to him speak and his speech is just impeccable. He’s about change and that’s what we need.”

The turnout in South Philadelphia was just as high, as polling judges Anna Mae Colanzi and Diane Torres described the sense of urgency that voters seem to have in this election year. Mrs. Colanzi, who has been working elections for 25 years said, “They were here at the door before 7, ready to vote,” while Mrs. Torres chimed in, “All ages, all asshole.gifnationalities.” The number of voters at Passyunk and Moore indicated that race was the primary factor in their decision. Ralph Squillace, a self-described “committee man” said that he was more anti-Obama then pro-Clinton. “I’m more opposed to Obama because he’s not pro-America,” said Mr. Squillace [pictured above in the Larry Farnese T-shirt], “He sits and listens to his pastor for 20 years and all of a sudden he says he’s against him. A lot of what he says is racially motivated.” The same could be said for Mr. Squillace. While being photographed by Phawker photographer Tiffany Yoon he cracked wise that his photo “would probably end up in a Chinese newspaper or a fortune cookie.”

Other voters in this district, such as Bruce D’agostino, also a committeeman, chose to speak about Senator Clinton’sdem-party-flag1-s.gif redeeming qualities rather than Obama’s race. “I like her health care qualities, she’s well-spoken and I think her ideas are right on the money.” He added that having Bill Clinton in the White House again as the potential First Man was “like getting two for the price of one.”

The illusory youth vote, much maligned by cynical commentators, is sure to be a significant factor today if the heavy foot traffic at polling places on Temple University’s campus are any indication. Ljiljana Zdravkovic, a student at Temple, talked about her affection for Obama and how she didn’t believe that the most experienced candidate was necessarily the best candidate: “I don’t believe experience is necessary. Being younger, he can relate to a younger crowd, but still relate to people like my parents who are in their 40s.” Zdravkovic went on to add that if Clinton were the nominee she would still vote for her. Other students, such as Grace Wu, focused on the two candidates’ dem-party-flag1-s.gifenvironmental policies when making her choice. “It was a really hard decision. I set up an Earth Day event and there was a poster with both candidates’ environmental policies and they were both very good, but Hillary’s were just a little too far-fetched.” She went on to add that, “they are both fit to lead, but there’s something more personable about Obama.” And for better or for worse, this whole thing will blessedly be over in four and a half hours. In other words, not a moment too soon.

[Photos by TIFFANY YOON]

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Standby for updates from both the official Clinton & Obama Election Watch parties. Starting around 8PM

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