France 24, November 24, 2020
In Philadelphia, the largest city in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, Election Day voting largely proceeded without the tensions that many feared. But with final results not expected for several days, the suspense is far from over.
If media reports were any indication, the leadup to this year’s presidential election put Philadelphia on edge.
In the final stretch of his campaign, US President Donald Trump made the city the focal point of baseless allegations of voter fraud. He declared from the stage of his first debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden that “bad things happen in Philadelphia” and went on to use such claims to drum up support for what he called an “army” of poll watchers that many worried could be behind widespread voter intimidation.
Yet these concerns did little to deter Philadelphia voters from the polls come Election Day. Instead, the day was marked by high turnout, adding to the large numbers of early votes cast in the previous weeks. It’s an indicator that’s being watched especially closely in a city where a sharp drop in Black turnout contributed to Trump’s upset win in Pennsylvania in 2016, by just 44,000 votes.
At Mitchell Elementary School, a polling site in the Kingsessing section of predominantly Black West Philadelphia, several hundred voters lined up when polls opened at 7am, and more continued to trickle in through the afternoon.
Local election official Christina Williams told FRANCE 24 there were “definitely more people” at the polling site than usual this year, in addition to the many more who voted by mail. Still, she said, the process was “smooth” throughout, with few voters having to wait longer than 20 minutes.