Black Students at Lincoln University Wait 5-7 Hours to Vote

My great-grandfather was an immigrant from the Caribbean who was employed as a cook for Lincoln University, a small, Quaker-founded historically black college in southeastern Pennsylvania. Several of his children, including my grandfather, attended Lincoln University. Many family members still live in the area.

As such, I was personally touched to read this story of the perseverance of Lincoln University students who waited for hours, some in the rain, to cast their votes.

Video of this from a local TV station is here:

The Philadelphia Inquirer tells the story:

College students around the region turned out in record numbers to vote, but probably few of them underwent the test of endurance that greeted students from Lincoln University in Chester County.

The average time in line at their off-campus precinct in Lower Oxford Township was five and a half hours, according to some students. Food and drink were brought in. Portable toilets were set up. When rain started, volunteers arrived with umbrellas and ponchos.

“It was a travesty,” said Michele Vaughn, chairwoman of the Chester County Democratic Committee. “But the kids stayed in line. Their resolve was remarkable.”

But absent a court order, no change is likely anytime soon, said Terence Farrell, a Republican committeeman in the Chester County precinct, and the first African American elected to serve on the county Board of Commissioners.

In September, when presented with a petition from several residents, Farrell and fellow Republican Commissioner Carol Aichele voted against moving the precinct to the gym on the Lincoln University campus, where voters could wait indoors and where there is plenty of parking.

“The large turnout only happens one out of every eight elections, the presidential,” he said. The next election is the spring 2009 primary. “Very few students will participate,” he predicted.

Lincoln University president Ivory V. Nelson said that the university had agreed to the change but that the county commissioners had rejected it. “We did what we thought was a civic duty in saying they could vote here,” he said. “We want to congratulate our students for sticking it out. It was an important election.”

The McClatchy papers also reported on this story

(McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) — By the time Kenneth Cullen, 52, cast the last ballot at 10:52 p.m., the networks already had declared Sen. Barack Obama the winner in Pennsylvania.

It had been a long, long day — and night — at the east precinct polling place in Chester County’s Lower Oxford Township.

Hundreds of people, most of them Lincoln University students, waited in line for as long as seven hours to vote.

The polling place, about a mile from Lincoln, is in a cramped community center with seven booths and one optical scanning machine, through which all ballots had to be processed.

Carter Dixon, 44, a drug and alcohol counselor who voted right before Cullen, said he stuck it out in part because he wanted to make a point to his 7-year-old daughter. “I told my daughter this was an important event,” he said. “I wanted to let her to know it was important.”

Bryan Taylor, 19, a Lincoln sophomore, was one of four students — all first-time voters and all Obama supporters — who came to the community center to vote at noon. They finally voted at 7:15 p.m. “You’ve got to make sacrifices if you want results,” Taylor said.

Jessica Perpignan, 19, also a Lincoln sophomore, said, “I’m not happy with the situation we’ve been in for the past eight years. If I can make a change, it’s worth it to me.” She saw the delays as part of an effort to suppress the largely Democratic voters. “They’re trying to keep us from voting by holding this in this little building,” she said. “They don’t want our votes.”

I already donate money to black colleges, but I think I’ll send something extra to Lincoln.

Thanks to for this.

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