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Unique Competition At City Hall Hopes To Drum Up Votes In November

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Voting rights groups teamed up Saturday evening to host Philadelphia's first "Drum Duel" -- a competition designed to get people fired up about voting.

Break Dancing, gymnastic feats and drumming...set the the City Hall Courtyard on Saturday.

"It's a head to head drum competition where the winner is determined by the ballot," says Christopher Norris, CEO of TechbookOnline and Pennsylvania Coordinator of Black Youth Vote. As an avid drummer, Norris wanted to find a way to tie his love of percussion with the need to get more young people familiar with voting and what goes on at City Hall.

"We were trying to figure out where to get celebrity judges from, but then we thought we're going to be at City Hall-- why not use voting machines," says Norris.

So he teamed up with City Commissioner Stephanie Singer who brought in real world voting machines. Attendees watched the drumming competition and then used paper ballots to cast their vote for the winner.

"The city of Philadelphia has put together 25 million dollars to buy new voting equipment in the next few years," says Singer, "people are going to vote on what could be the next voting technology for the city of Philadelphia."

"We want young people to be engaged of the voting process," says Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, an organization that travels the country trying to get people outside of the political process to get involved. He says his organization helped provide resources, as part of an initiative called, "Respect My Vote."

"Many people don't think the political process is for them," says Yearwood, "this is our way of showing them how their political power can be used and that they should not be afraid of the process."

Speakers discussed what it means to vote, why voting was important and encouraged attendees to register.

Despite rain on Saturday, scores of folks showed up and stayed to cast their ballot.

"It was really nice to come out and see this," said one attendee, "I will definitely vote in November-- I'm already registered."

The next election in Pennsylvania is scheduled for November 4th. The deadline to register to vote in that election is October 6th.

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