Phone Votes to Help Select Miss America

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Byline: Alysia Tate Daily Herald Staff Writer

They may see her on stage, but some of her own former Barrington High School classmates won't be able to vote for her.

Class of 1995 graduate Tania Gibson will be among the 50 Miss America contestants vying for the crown tonight. The Lake Barrington resident was crowned Miss Illinois on June 29, her 19th birthday.

But even Gibson herself barely makes the recommended cut-off age for those voting on who should win.

This year marks the first time television viewers will call in to help choose five semi-finalists from among 10 finalists tonight. It will be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on WMAQ Channel 5.

People under 18 are being asked not to participate in the telephone poll, which is bad news for young viewers.

The good news: pageant and AT&T officials conceded Friday they have no way of knowing how old you are when you call to vote.

Oh, and if one of the top 10 is from your state, don't bother calling either. With the help of AT&T technology, calls from the 10 states will be blocked from the 900 numbers, company spokesman Dave Johnson said Friday.

The 76th anniversary pageant, telecast live on NBC, incorporated the call-in as a follow-up to last year's vote on the swimsuit competition. …