NORRISTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA — The Senior Adult Activities Center in Norristown, Pa., is usually filled with senior citizens seeking to discover a renewed sense of purpose in their lives. Today however, the center is crowded with voters from surrounding neighborhoods looking to cast their ballots for the next president.
In a battleground state like Pennsylvania, voters exercising their rights to vote could be spotted standing in lines hours before the polls opened. With a record-setting 8,758,031 Pennsylvanians registered to vote at more than 9,300 polling places, long lines at polling places were expected.
Shortly after 7 a.m., the line of nearly 100 people waiting to enter polling stations stretched down a long corridor at the senior center.
Activities coordinator Pat MacKenzie is known for encouraging elderly members of the center to remain active in recreational and education programs, but for weeks leading up to Election Day, she assisted seniors in registering to vote.
An unidentified senior citizen at the center did not know she had to register in order to vote in today’s election.
“As much as they put the word out, people, unfortunately may or may not have acted,” MacKenzie said.
Though she didn’t say who she would be voting for, MacKenzie said both presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, have put Pennsylvania in the forefront of their campaigns.
“I think they understand that this is a big important state for them, so [Pennsylvanians] do have a lot of voice in Washington. Even the physical proximity to Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania has an advantage,” she added.
MacKenzie said the candidate she will choose depends on his proposed policies for healthcare reform.
“Since I work for a senior center, a lot of funding has not been given to seniors,” she said. “Nonprofits are losing money [because] some of their funding is going more toward youth and away from the seniors.”
For Norristown resident Donna Turano, the most important issue facing the nation is the financial crisis affecting the economy and global markets.
“There’s a lot of different issues,” Turano said. “People are losing their homes [because of] the the economy, and finances.”
Despite the long lines at the senior center, MacKenzie said she is pleased to see people passionate about their right to vote.
“I appreciate how important their right to vote is [including] women.”