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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

In South St. Pete: A quiet close at the polls



ST. PETERSBURG -- Two volunteers for Barack Obama were standing outside the Frank Pierce Recreation Center at 7 p.m. when the polls closed. They were ready for long lines at the precinct, expecting to draw many black voters. They had handbills with a message from Obama: "Even if it's late and the line is long, please stay and make sure your vote is counted."

But only a few voters breezed in and out at 6:45 p.m. By 7 p.m., all was quiet.

City Councilman Karl Nurse, at the request of the Obama campaign, showed up as the polls closed, intending to urge voters to stay if there was a line.

"I don't know what it means," Nurse said. "We must not have had many dysfunctional things happen."

Volunteer Paul R. Olszewski, 66, had watched his home precinct all day.

"Large in the morning, very encouraging in the morning, and steady throughout the day," he said. "I'm convinced that early voting made a big difference here."

A check later in the night proved him right, after the 1,082 voters at Precinct 116 were counted. Turn-out skyrocketed from 38 percent in 2004 to 65 percent in 2008.

-- Angie Drobnic Holan, staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:39am]


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