Casting a ballot paid off for one South Philadelphia woman Tuesday night. Bridget Conroy-Varnis headed home from her polling place at the Murphy Recreation Center $10,000 richer, thanks to the Philadelphia Citizen lottery that awarded the five-figure prize to one lucky voter, just for showing up at the polls. The Citizen said it randomly chose the polling location at 3rd and Shunk streets from the 1,686 sites citywide and the time of 6:36 p.m. Conroy-Varnis was the first voter to leave the rec center after that time. Conroy-Varnis told reporters she was “overwhelmed” as she was handed an oversize check. The $10,000 came from a foundation launched by Ajay Raju, chairman of the Dilworth Paxson law firm and a Philadelphia Citizen cofounder. The scheme was meant to boost voter turnout for the election.
“We’re going to continue to do anything we can, whether it’s voting, whether it’s other forms of civic engagement, to up the level of participation,” Larry Platt, another Citizen cofounder and former editor of Philadelphia Magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News, told news crews as he presented the check Tuesday night.
About 25.5 percent of registered voters in Philadelphia cast ballots on Tuesday, according to unofficial figures from the Philadelphia City Commissioners.
Conroy-Varnis, who had heard about the lottery but planned to vote anyway, will receive her actual check in a few weeks, after the vote is certified, according to the Citizen.