Gov. Rendell and Mayor Nutter said they expect long voting lines to rule the day tomorrow, but both hoped to shorten them somewhat by encouraging businesses to allow employees time to vote throughout the course of the workday.
While polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the vast majority of voters cast ballots within the first two hours, or the final two to three. "A lot of folks want to vote and go to work," Nutter said.
But the mayor and governor stressed that spreading voting out in the hours in between would best help alleviate long waits.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., "The loneliest place to be is at a polling place," Nutter, joined by Rendell, said at a City Hall news conference this morning.
Toward that end, Rendell said he would cast a ballot at his polling place in East Falls between noon and 1 p.m. Nutter, typically an early-morning voter, said he was still talking with his wife to figure out a time for them to vote together.
The much-anticipated long lines are fueled by the addition of nearly 500,000 newly-registered voters, including many college students.
First-time voters, or those voting in new divisions, will be asked to show photo identification such as drivers' licenses or employee or college IDs. Anyone without a photo ID can submit a utility bill, paycheck or other document showing your name and address.
At a separate news conference, city District Attorney Lynne Abraham cautioned patience. "It's going to be, I think, extraordinarily crowded.. . . Use this as a social experiment to get to know the people in your community."
She also said the city's electronic voting machines may not be entirely dependable, and encouraged voters to review their individual selections before hitting the green "vote" button.
"Sometimes these machines have been known to misplace a light, and sometimes the machines totally malfunction," Abraham said.
In the spring presidential primary, 35 of the city's 3,400 voting machines went down, according to assistant district attorney Peter Berson.
State election code allows voters up to three minutes to cast ballots, although election officers may grant more time. Still, Abraham urged voters to familiarize themselves with the ballots - samples are posted at each polling place - before entering the voting booth.
Anyone in line by 8 p.m. is permitted to vote.