PhiladelphiaDespite overcast skies and expected rain, when polls opened in Philadelphia at 7:00 a.m., eager voters were already waiting in line. Philadelphia is expected to be the ticket to a Democratic win in Pennsylvania. Four years ago, Democratic Senator John Kerry took more than 80 percent of the vote in the City of Brotherly Love. And in Pennsylvania, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 1.23 million.

But there are no guarantees in any election. And these early voters wanted to allow enough time to navigate any problems that might occur. Tamika Ross, 36, came right from working the overnight shift to cast her ballot. Ross listed the economy and health care as two of the top reasons this election is historic. “People are making life decisions in the supermarket,” Ross said. “They have to decide between groceries and medicine. People are struggling, and they need to be able to make a living.”

Over the course of the early morning, small lines of about 20 people were forming at the George W. Carver High School for Engineering and Science at Sixteenth and Norris Streets in North Philadelphia. Poll workers were friendly and helpful, looking up voters’ names and directing them to lines based on their last names. Philadelphia uses direct-record electronic voting machines, and all four of the machines were working at this location.

While properly functioning machines weren’t a source of tension, voters were still on edge for other reasons. “You can see it on their faces. They’re wondering how they’re going to make ends meet,” said Ross, who is hopeful that her candidate Senator Barack Obama will win and things will begin to improve.

And if he doesn’t? Says Ross, “We’ll just have to pray; stay focused and stay strong.”

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