Election Day blog — Stack wins big

10:30 p.m.

With 98 percent of the precincts counted, state Sen. Mike Stack has claimed a big victory, with 72 percent of the vote. His Republican challenger, Michael Tomlinson, had 28 percent. Stack represents the state’s 5th Senate district.

In the 169th state House district, Democratic incumbent grabbed an early lead and held it, beating his GOP challenger almost 2–1. Incumbent state Rep. Ed Neilson was on the phone with his opponent as he hurried into his campaign headquarters at Grant and Academy last night at 9:15.

Republican Dave Kralle had called him to concede the contest, Neilson said. The Millbrook Democrat, looking at results from 30 of the Far Northeast district’s 60 voting divisions, said he was ahead by about 7,100 to 5,800. ldquo;Places where I shouldn’t have won, I won,” Neilson said. “I’ve been blessed.”

Neilson said he won divisions he had lost during the spring special election for the seat.

Kralle, who also had incomplete numbers by about 9:25 p.m., said he had lost every ward. The top of the GOP ticket, he said, also was losing badly in the city.

The city of Philadelphia is reporting a 59 percent voter turnout.

10 p.m.

With 85 percent of the Philly precincts counted, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady was thumping Republican challenger John Featherman by 86 percent to 14 percent. Brady is the Democratic Congressman from the 1st District.

With 66 percent of Philadelphia precincts reporting, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of the 13th Congressional district was leading Republican challenger Joe Rooney by 73 percent to 27 percent. No vote totals have been posted for results of the race in Montgomery County.

With 70 percent of the Philadelphia votes counted, President Obama was crushing Mitt Romney by 84 percent to 15 percent.

9:35 p.m.

Some early returns…

In Northeast Philly races, Kevin Boyle has a commanding lead right now over Al Taubenberger in the state House race for the 172nd District seat.

With 48 percent of the precincts reporting, Boyle, the Democratic incumbent, has garnered about 69 percent of the vote, versus 31 percent by Taubenberger, the Republican challenger.

With 57 percent of the precincts in, Republican John Taylor was leading Democratic challenger William Dunbar by a ratio of 62 percent to 38 percent. Taylor is the incumbent state representative in the 177th District.

In the race fpr the 169th district state House seat, incumbent Democrat Ed Neilson said that challenger David Kralle had called Neilson to concede at 9:15 p.m. Neilson said “Places where I shouldn’t have won, I won.”

He added, “I’ve been blessed. I won in places where I was afraid I was going to lose.”

With half of the 60 divisions reporting results, Neilson was leading Kralle by 7,100 votes to 5,800 votes.

7:15 p.m.

Some prominent local Democrats gathered at the Tiffany Diner in Bustleton for lunch on Tuesday afternoon, and the politicos began talking about the heavy voter turnout at their polling places.

The conversation, though, soon turned to a brewing controversy at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, at Rising Sun and Cheltenham avenues in Lawncrest.

Bill Dolbow, Democratic leader of the 35th Ward, explained that the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 31st divisions all vote in Franklin’s cafeteria.

The problem? The cafeteria wall features a large mural of President Barack Obama, complete with the words “hope” and “change,” a quote and his campaign logo.

Republicans complained, and GOP attorney Linda A. Kerns filed a court motion. Common Pleas Court Judge John Milton Younge Jr. ordered that the judge of election in the 18th division to cover the mural in its entirety with blank paper or similar material so that the mural could not be seen.

Dolbow was joined at the lunch by fellow ward leaders Dan Savage (23rd), Bob Dellavella (55), John Sabatina Sr. (56th), Pat Parkinson (57th), state Sen. Mike Stack (58th), Bernice Hill (63rd) and Mike McAleer (66-B).

Also in attendance was state Rep. John Sabatina Jr. (174th district) and James “Scoot” Clay, who is unopposed in the 179th Legislative District race.

4:30 p.m.

Zachary Stalberg, head of the independent election watchdog group Committee of Seventy, said this afternoon that voter turnout is high in Philadelphia, and election day has had its share of problems.

Some new voters — and some not-so-new voters — were not allowed to cast their ballots on voting machines at their polling places because their names were not in the poll workers’ election binders or on supplemental lists. The DA’s office warned Monday that election judges are not permitted to allow people whose names are not on official lists to vote.

However, they could cast what are called “provisional ballots,” said Stalberg president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy. Such ballots are counted later if it is proved the voter was properly registered, he said.

“There was a good bit of confusion over voter ID [law] and a lot of friction,” he said.

Following a lengthy court battle, voters are being asked, but not required, to show photo ID in this election. However, it seems not all poll workers know that voters may refuse to show ID and still be allowed to vote, and some people are being turned away, he said.

Stalberg said this was happening in the city and the suburbs, but seemed to be more of a suburban phenomenon.

It seems to be more of a problem the farther you get from Philadelphia, he said.

Info box

For election information or to report problems at polling places, call:

Election watchdog group Committee of Seventy at 1–866–687–8683, or 215–557–3600

District Attorney’s Office at 215–686–9641, 9643, 9644, 9884

You’re not listed as a registered voter at your polling place?

The judge of election may not let anyone vote who isn’t listed as a registered voter, even if the person is known to the election judge. However, you can vote on what is called a “provisional ballot.” A provisional vote only will be counted if the person who cast it turns out to be a registered voter. After the election, check www.hava.state.pa.us to find out if your provisional ballot was counted.

Will I get frozen out of voting even if I’m in line when polls close at 8 p.m.?

No. As long as you are in line, inside or outside of you polling place, you will be allowed to vote.

Will I be asked for proof of identification at the polls?

Yes, but you must produce it today only if you have never voted before at your polling place. Otherwise, you may be asked for ID but decline to show it.

What are your Election Day impressions? Call or write reporter John Loftus at 215–354–3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

3:15 p.m.

Election Day is in full gear, and there are reports of a big turnout in Philadelphia and a few beefs.

A heavy presidential-year turnout was predicted, DA’s spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said midafternoon Tuesday, and the forecast appears to be coming true.

She characterized the turnout as “very high.”

That’s in contrast to the 2011 election in which only about 17 percent of Philadelphia’s million voters went to the polls.

Joe McCarthy, Parkwood Civic Association treasurer, said the third division of the 66th Ward had seen a quarter of its 460 registered voters at the polls by 9 a.m.

When the polls opened at 7 a.m., McCarthy said, there were 40 people waiting to go inside.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

Joe Fox of Millbrook said he voted “off-peak” at about 10 a.m.

“I was the 115th person to vote and waited only five minutes,” Fox said in an email to the Northeast Times. “There were several people behind me in line. The flow of voters was steady. We are on pace for a high turnout.”

GOP poll watchers had some trouble taking their posts today, Jamerson said. In heavily Democratic Philly, there haven’t been Republican poll watchers in some divisions for years, she said. However, some were certified to work today in some of those voting places, but they had been turned away, she said. A judge ruled those Republican poll watchers had to be allowed to work, and also said sheriff’s deputies would enforce the order.

“It’s a very Philly thing,” Jamerson said.

Forty-three complaints have been made to the DA’s office, Jamerson said, but many of them were from out of state, prompted, she theorized, by TV news reports about the trouble GOP poll watchers had experienced.

What are your Election Day impressions? Write or call John Loftus at 215–354–3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com