P OLL WORKERS in Chester worry that the state's new voter-ID bill could suppress turnout. You know what else suppresses turnout? Gunshots.

More than a dozen shots rang out Tuesday morning near a polling place on Johnson Street in Sun Village, a watch-your-back neighborhood in Chester's East Side.

"We have a lot of people who walk here to vote. We want to protect them, but how can we?" asked Ashaki-Imani Prince, a judge of elections. "They'll be afraid they might be shot."

The voting booths are inside a garage that already has a couple of bullet holes in it - including one that went through the front door into the back wall - from a previous shooting.

"I think that was from last summer," said poll watcher John Coleman. "They used to do their thing at night, but now they don't care," he said of neighborhood thugs. Coleman pointed to what used to be the light above the garage. "We put in a new light and they shoot it right out."

Sheriff Joseph McGinn declined to post a deputy at the polling place because the shooting was not in the immediate vicinity. "It's my understanding that there wasn't a safety issue," he said.

Vanessa Cottman, another judge of elections, said that the shots were "close enough for us to hear." She figures that's close enough for some additional protection. "We're law-abiding citizens and we need to be protected just like any other precinct," said Doreen Coleman, a majority inspector there. "I don't want to be a Trayvon Martin."

Only 33 people had voted at the garage as of about 1 p.m. All of them had their ID, by the way.