Midterms in Kensington: Turnout higher than usual on the ground, as young people want change in their neighborhood and beyond
AL DÍA News was all around North Philadelphia on Nov. 8.
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On Election Day, Nov. 8, AL DÍA News toured a number of different polling stations around North Philadelphia, speaking with different voters of all backgrounds, and poll workers to get some insight on their thoughts surrounding one of the most momentous midterm elections in recent memory.
That same emphasis on these elections was also expressed by many AL DÍA spoke to throughout the day. Many Latino voters and poll workers were very active in areas like Hunting Park, Fairhill and Kensington, as many expressed their desire to participate in these elections and perform their civic duty.
Families, senior citizens, and many young faces made their way to polling stations all throughout the day and many workers said they had seen a bigger turnout compared to previous election cycles — local and national.
Spanish speakers were also present for assistance at all stations AL DÍA visited to eliminate any potential language barriers
More than 700 polling stations around the Greater Philadelphia area opened on Nov. 8 at 7 a.m.
AL DÍA visited a number of stations in Kensington, Fairhill, and Hunting Park, all predominantly Latino neighborhoods, with two first two having seen the worst of crime, drugs, and gentrification of any area of the city. Several voters expressed their hopes and optimism that a new administration would be able to clean up and better the neighborhood.
Some of the specific polling stations AL DÍA visited include the Hunting Park Recreation Center, Norris Square Children’s Center, Rivera Daycare Center, Julia de Burgos Elementary School, Somerset Villas, Visitation BVM School, Lewis Elkin Elementary, and Stetson Middle School.
In addition to voters and poll workers, AL DÍA also met up with Quetcy Lozada, who is running in the special Philly City Council to represent the 7th Councilmanic District on Philly City Council, who also toured different polling stations around Kensington on an Election Day tour. Lozada is looking to fill the vacant seat left by former Councilmember and current mayoral candidate María Quiñones-Sánchez. Lozada was once Quiñonez-Sánchez’s chief of staff.
The day started on the scene at Hunting Park Recreation Center at 9 a.m., where there was not a huge visible turnout, but it was early. Many came to vote in the late afternoon as they get off of work and school. A poll worker there told AL DÍA that a little more than 18 people had voted in the two hours since the station opened. A voter named Sandra said one of her motivations to come vote was over abortion rights and called this election cycle “demanding,” as she was bombared with letters, phone calls, and text messages.
By 10 a.m. at Norris Square Children’s Center, an election official said more than 60 people, mostly seniors, had cast their ballots. She added It was a mixed bag of Democrat and Republican voters, and expected turnout to be in the hundreds by the afternoon.
AL DÍA also caught up with another poll worker named Shawn ‘Frogg’ Banks, an active community member in the neighborhood against prevent gun violence among other ventures.
He urged all people to come vote, no matter their party preference. Later in Norris Square, Lozada also arrived and spoke on the importance of these elections, and what she was trying to accomplish with her polling station tour.
At 11 a.m., AL DÍA arrived at Rivera Daycare Center and spoke to Latina poll worker, Stephanie, who said a lot of young faces and seniors had come out with turnout being high overall. She spoke on the importance of educating young people specifically who think their vote doesn't matter or do not care for the process.
Within the first 10 minutes of arriving, 10 more prospective voters arrived. A voter named Keith, an African-American father of a five year old daughter who expressed the importance of voting for the next generation and for the benefit of the upcoming generation rather than adults and older people.
By noon, foot traffic was also growing at Julia de Burgos Elementary. More than 40 people had come out to vote according to workers. When speaking to three Latino poll workers, all encouraged people to come out and make their voice heard as they highlighted abortion rights as one of the bigger issues for them personally.
Another Puerto Rican worker who preferred to stay unnamed also urged all to come out so that much needed change can come to his home of Kensington. Similar sentiments were expressed by a mother and her two young children. Her 13-year old son who cannot vote, but spoke eloquently about wanting change to come to his crime-riddled neighborhood and encouraged young people to believe in the voting process.
Around 1 p.m., AL DÍA was at Somerset Villas, where it spoke to a worker who was also encouraged by the huge turnout from young people. She recalled an instance earlier in the day where a young voter came and waited for nearly three hours while they got registered and had trouble being found in the registry, but was patient throughout the process and eventually cast his vote.
Similar to other workers AL DÍA spoke to, it was a mixed bag of voters in regards to party allegiances.
Nearby the Somerset Villas was the Visitation BVM School in Kensington, AL DÍA spoke to a poll worker named John, who has worked the polls at the VisitationSschool for over seven years. He said voter turnout already at that point in the day was bigger than previous elections and was encouraged by the many young faces who had come in.
Drugs and crime were two of the main issues voters and poll workers highlighted throughout the day in Kensington. At Lewis Elkin Elementary, one voter spoke on hopefully his vote meant voting in officials who can fix the ongoing drug problems in Kensington as he said the neighborhood has felt “neglected” by local government for not doing more.
Two poll workers also expressed similar sentiments on drugs, but were also fighting for abortion rights, and encouraging more young voters to come as many of the voters to have come were older.
To end its own election tour, AL DÍA arrived at Stetson Middle School around 3 p.m. where foot traffic was visibly up from the morning. This was confirmed by a poll worker who said roughly more than 150 ballots had been cast with more to come as people get off of work in the late afternoon and with polls closing at 8 p.m. That same worker was young and told AL DÍA that he had never voted before or even paid attention to politics, but that working the polls had encouraged him to engage in local politics and the voting process.
It was a busy Election Day morning and afternoon as AL DÍA went around many polling stations in North Philly. Turnouts in the afternoon were bigger than anything seen in the morning and were set to grow even bigger in late afternoon and evening as people got off from work.
Polls in Pennsylvania closed at 8 p.m.