Ten Good Reasons To Vote Early In Philly

The following article is written by Jane Century, an active participant of the Philly Voter Engagement Network. She wrote this for her neighborhood listserv. It is reprinted with permission. So, if you have a mail-in ballot, complete it, then bring it to a nearby Satellite Election Office or drop box locations around Philadelphia. Other voter information is available on the City Commissioners website.

In the past month, I debated whether to surrender my mail-in ballot and vote in person.  But info I gleaned from elected officials and other reliable sources helped me confirm my decision to drop off my mail-in ballot at a satellite voting center last week.  I realize this is a personal decision for each of us.  If you are still undecided, consider the following:

1.            Mail-in votes will begin to be processed sooner than machine voting.  Philly has acquired state-of-the-art ballot scanners that can scan 16,000 ballots an hour.  The City will begin opening and scanning ballots as soon as the polls open at 7am on Nov 3 and run continuously – 24/7 thereafter.   This means that by the time machine ballot counts begin to be released to the media at 9 – 10 pm or later on Election Night, as many as 240,000 paper ballots may already be tabulated in Philadelphia alone.  If the vast majority favor one candidate, it can be projected that the remainder will follow suit.  This data will be reported as it becomes available. The President will find ways to cast doubt on everything, no matter what.

2.            COVID safety at the polls.  Polling places are indoor spaces. Voters will be standing six feet apart indoors and out and my face long waits.  Voters will be asked to arrive with a mask and will be provided hand sanitizer and a single glove for handling the pen for their signature and touching the touch screen, which can only be cleaned with a microfiber cloth.  Voters are not legally required to cooperate with either the mask or glove policy. 

3.            Voting machine equipment is complex.  Our new touchscreen voting machines are still relatively new.  They have complex mechanical and digital functions that also generate paper ballots after each vote is cast.  Any equipment failures can slow down the process. 

4.            Voting in person takes time.  Unlike voting from home on a paper ballot at your kitchen table, many voters are still unfamiliar with touch screen voting and how to proofread the paper ballot that gets printed after each vote.  This year, there are also four ballot initiatives. Many people arrive at the polls without having reviewed these ahead of time. If people accidentally “spoil” their ballot while voting on the machine and need to redo it, decide to surrender their paper ballot and vote in person or need to complete a provisional ballot for any reason, this will slow the process for everyone.

5.            Lots of new poll workers are being hired. This may lengthen the process.  Many older, experienced poll workers have stepped away from serving this year due to concerns about COVID.  The City received applications from 20,000 people willing to serve as poll workers to fill 8,000+ positions.  The Board of Elections is currently working its way through a long list of returning and new volunteers and trying to fill vacant positions as quickly as possible. While all who serve must attend or watch a training, many polling places will be staffed by people with no prior experience.  They must come prepared to oversee safety protocols for COVID, answer a myriad of questions and possibly resolve disputes arising from poll watchers. 

6.            Mail-in ballots are the perfect antidote to threats of voter intimidation.  In the face of calls by the White House for an “army of volunteers” to watch over polling places, Mayor Kenney has been clear that voter intimidation tactics will not be tolerated.  But if everyone has already cast their ballots safely ahead of time, and there are no voters waiting in line to intimidate, well, you get the point.

7.            Early voting is totally in your control.  Once you complete your ballot, you can drop it off any one of 17 satellite centers, knowing it will be stored safely and securely, under guard.

8.            The sooner people complete and turn in a mail-in ballot, the easier it will be to prep them for efficient scanning.  And the less congestion there will be at the polls.  Don’t put it off to the last minute.

9.            There are now 17 satellite voting centers.  If you already have your ballot, you can fill it out at home and drop it off in a minute. If not, you can request one and complete it there. (If your ballot has not arrived, but your application has been confirmed online, you can cancel it in person at any satellite center, any time up to 8pm Nov 3, and obtain a new one to submit right there.  See: https://www.phila.gov/2020-09-29-visit-a-satellite-election-office-today/

10.        Peace of mind.  Once you know your ballot has been safely cast, you can put your energies to other uses to help support a safe, fair election for all.

Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Is the amount a candidate has raised correlate to the chances of winning an election? Perhaps not. Asked differently, would you endorse a candidate who has few dollars in the final weeks of a campaign? Available is a recent analysis I’ve completed of contributions received by candidates and the current cash on hand, as of April 1, 2019. This information is publicly available at Philadelphia’s Office of the City Commissioners website in the Campaign Finance Reports page.

A zero in the right most column (# Pages) indicates the candidate did not file a campaign finance report, according to the Office of City Commissioners. The report deadline was April 9, 2019 and complete as of April 1, 2019.

City Commissioner candidates who reportedly have not filed are: Warren Bloom and Annette Thompson.

There are also a number of Council-at-Large candidates who reportedly did not file, as required. They include: Wayne Allen, Latrice Bryant, Devon Cade, Wayne Dorsey and Edwin Santana. Janice Tangradi dropped out of the race near the filing deadline.

You can download this table in spreadsheet format.

Other public webpages on primary races in Philadelphia include: 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, Philly Power Research’s 24 page 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, 2.0 and 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Endorsements – Citywide Races.

Remember, Primary Election Day in Philadelphia is May 21. Be a voter.

Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Candidate Office $ Contributions $ Cash on Hand # Pages
James Kenney Mayor 651,722 655,692 143
Alan Butkovitz Mayor 62,325 50,972 25
Anthony Hardy Williams Mayor 58,500 49,078 11
Kahlil Williams City Commissioner 127,200 170,406 95
Lisa Deeley City Commissioner 91,950 103,916 56
Omar Sabir City Commissioner 63,864 22,519 19
Luigi Borda City Commissioner 43,176 37,460 30
Jen Devor City Commissioner 33,256 33,586 47
Dennis Lee City Commissioner 25,100 12,918 27
Marwan Kreidie City Commissioner 9,657 5,406 21
Moira Bohannon City Commissioner 2,885 -100 34
Carla Cain City Commissioner 1,500 2,352 4
Lewis Harris City Commissioner 0 500 1
Warren Bloom City Commissioner 0
Annette Thompson City Commissioner 0
Allan Domb Council-at-Large 570,079 176,424 *
Helen Gym Council-at-Large 193,900 410,831 *
Justin DiBerardinis Council-at-Large 134,304 190,805 *
Derek Green Council-at-Large 125,405 190,436 62
Eryn Santamoor Council-at-Large 101,434 192,821 *
Katherine Gilmore Richardson Council-at-Large 66,175 52,333 35
Fernando Trevino Council-at-Large 61,457 29,799 38
Erika Almiron Council-at-Large 58,118 55,307 45
Beth Finn Council-at-Large 54,636 6,483 40
Isaiah Thomas Council-at-Large 51,805 69,236 34
Sandra Dungee Glenn Council-at-Large 51,730 31,733 36
Joseph Diorio Council-at-Large 50,000 50,000 4
Sherrie Cohen Council-at-Large 20,503 36,944 29
Ethelind Baylor Council-at-Large 17,840 7,166 19
Deja Lynn Alvarez Council-at-Large 14,587 3,544 50
Adrian Rivera-Reyes Council-at-Large 14,474 10,751 21
Hena Veit Council-at-Large 6,872 1 25
Billy Thompson Council-at-Large 1,855 1,185 5
Ogbonna Hagins Council-at-Large 1,250 0 2
Fareed Abdullah Council-at-Large 1,147 1,232 7
Asa Khalif Council-at-Large 630 283 6
Mark Ross Council-at-Large 600 -69 1
Vinny Black Council-at-Large 0 1
Bobby Curry Council-at-Large 0 1
Wayne Allen Council-at-Large 0
Latrice Bryant Council-at-Large 0
Devon Cade Council-at-Large 0
Wayne Dorsey Council-at-Large 0
Edwin Santana Council-at-Large 0
Janice Tangradi Council-at-Large 0
Jewell Williams Sheriff 45,450 36,385 27
Rochelle Bilal Sheriff 25,086 4,563 22
Malika Rahman Sheriff 11,330 3,654 14
Larry King, Sr. Sheriff 2,275 3,062 6
Mark Squilla District Council 1 86,065 163,742 18
Lou Lanni District Council 1 2,950 454 7
Kenyatta Johnson District Council 2 95,794 520,778 70
Lauren Vidas District Council 2 65,120 68,451 *
Jamie Gauthier District Council 3 132,159 118,523 *
Jannie Blackwell District Council 3 71,190 52,611 19
Curtis Jones, Jr. District Council 4 108,258 93,429 42
Ronald Adams District Council 4 16,604 13,399 15
Karla Cruel District Council 4 16,430 12,245 21
Jeannette Geter District Council 4 5,791 399 8
Omar Woodard District Council 5 58,994 48,332 25
Darrell Clarke District Council 5 56,550 164,770 18
Bobby Henon District Council 6 68,745 122,431 33
Maria Quinones-Sanchez District Council 7 88,505 160,263 53
Angel Cruz District Council 7 12,450 7,448 18
Tonya Bah District Council 8 26,785 33,341 35
Cindy Bass District Council 8 9,475 5,629 18
Cherelle Parker District Council 9 148,185 122,696 42
S. Archye Leacock District Council 9 500 1,225 6
Judy Moore District Council 10 25,035 8,922 25
Taras Smerechanskyy District Council 10 10,875 3,824 20