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Rain, Lack of Interest Make For Low Turnout In Philadelphia Primaries

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you were going to vote on Tuesday in Philadelphia, you were getting relatively more say in the city's near future because so few people were joining you.

Call it a stealth election because, in many quarters, this one has not been seen, or at least noticed. The election watchdog group Committee of Seventy expected only 13 to 14 percent turnout, similar figures to when John Street and Ed Rendell each sought second terms.

"People are generally excited about the big races, the national races that will take place next year, for instance, but the people who are holding local office can actually have more impact on your life," said Zack Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy.

Those local offices includes more than the usual number of Council contests, due to either retirements or challenges to incumbents.

A low turnout does not mean the district attorney's office or the Committee of Seventy will watch the polls any less. The district attorney's office had dozens of volunteers on the lookout for any Primary Day issues at the polls.

Stalberg, of the Committee of 70, says complaints are plentiful but difficult to sort out, with most accusations of hanky-panky coming from those hotly contested District races for City Council.

The open City Council District seats are in the 1st District, to replace Frank DiCicco; in the 2nd, for retiring Council president Anna Verna; in the 6th, to succeed Joan Krajewski; and in the 8th, for the outgoing Donna Reed Miller.  In the 7th District, incumbent Maria Quinones-Sanchez is challenged by Dan Savage, who was the District councilman there before she won four years ago.

Most of the electioneering complaints have been from that 7th District, which covers parts of eastern North Philladelphia, Kensington, Frankford, and the Near Northeast.  An example of it, according to Stalberg, was some mischief over an anonymous flyer casting Savage in an unfavorable light.

District attorney Seth Williams agrees that a majority of these issues can be taken care of easily.

"They're just people who do not know where they're to vote. They show up where they used to vote and maybe the polling place has been moved or maybe they relocated during that election cycle and didn't know that they had to vote where they live in their own new precinct," Williams said.

The Committee of Seventy also said it would have up to 400 volunteers out looking for problems and responding to any trouble.

Reported by John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio 1060

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