Students wait hours for cast vote

November 5, 2008 4:45:44 PM PST
Voting problems will always be a part of election day, but students at historically black Lincoln University say there's no excuse for what happened there last night. Hundreds of newly registered Lincoln University students were eager and excited to be part of history.

"Nothing was going to turn me away; I was going to stand there all night if I had to," student Brittany Stephens said.

Some did stay all night, standing in line for upwards of seven hours.

Their tiny polling place didn't close until 11:30 to accommodate everyone left standing in line at 8:00.

The students were outraged.

The County Democrats had tried to have the polling place moved from a cramped community center to the gymnasium on campus.

The university agreed to open its doors.

But, the county commissioners, who also serve as the election board, rejected the move 2 to 1.

The two Republicans, Carole Aichele and Terrence Farrel, casting the no votes.

The logjam at the polling place started almost immediately yesterday and got worse throughout the day.

"Last night it was madness with an extreme number of students entering the polls; we pretty much knew this was going to happen," student John Petty said.

The students say the county board of elections should have seen it coming with hundreds of newly registered voters. Some suspect it was an outright attempt to suppress the Democrat vote.

"I think it was definitely an effort to push the Democrats away from the polls, especially due to the youth that are here on Lincoln University's campus that outnumber the community," student Milan Carter said.

The Chairman of the Chester County Commissioners, Carol Aichele, rejected Action News' request for an interview.

County spokesperson Evelyn Walker says the commissioners rejected moving the polling place to the gymnasium because it's inaccessible for the handicapped.

The University says the gym is accessible.

Walker says there were enough machines at the polling place, but poll workers were overwhelmed as they verified the newly registered voters.

She says, in hindsight, they could have assigned extra personnel to handle the load.

In the end, few people left the long line.

They were there to make history, and weren't about to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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