AS PREDICTED, there were some long lines yesterday outside Philadelphia polling places - but most of them began forming before the polls opened and were gone by mid-morning.

A couple of young black men, calling themselves "the New Black Panthers," struck a menacing pose outside a polling place at 12th Street and Fairmount Avenue, one of them caressing a nightstick, until a police officer asked them to disperse.

Several Republican poll-watchers complained that they were temporarily blocked from voting locations in North and West Philadelphia.

But overall, the city's Election Day passed without major incidents and the election machinery handled the heavy turnout without serious problems.

The people who wound up standing in line the longest were those who got to the polls early, hoping to avoid the lines.

In Philadelphia and the rest of the state, there were widespread complaints about discrepancies between state voter-registration records and the voter lists that were sent in advance to each polling place.

At Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Lincoln University, West Chester and other colleges, students had to wait in line for several hours while election officials checked their IDs, one at a time.

Near Temple University in North Philadelphia, 50 young voters were still waiting in line at 8:30 last night, half an hour after the Penrose Rec Center polls were supposed to close.

Jude O'Neill, 18, a freshman, said it was worth the wait.

"I feel great because it's a time we can probably have some change," he said.

"There have been many firsts in this election."

About 8:30 p.m., cheers erupted from the crowd when Mayor Nutter and dozens of other Obama supporters, rolled up in a truck shouting, "If you're in line, stay in line!"

"You have never seen this before because this has never happened before," Nutter said. "We're getting ready to turn this country around."

Once inside their polling places, most Philadelphia voters were processed quickly and needed little time to record their votes.

"Overall, we are seeing that everything went pretty well," said Ellen Kaplan, vice president of the election watchdog group Committee of Seventy.

Many party workers reported record numbers of voters, or at least the most they'd seen in recent years.

"This morning was a madhouse. We had people lined up at 6:15," said Russell Meddin, a Democratic committeeman in Center City's 8th Ward. But he noted, "People have been delighted and in very good humor." *

Staff writers Catherine Lucey, Kitty Caparella, Dafney Tales and Bill Bender contributed to this report.