City Commissioner Singer Releases Provisional Ballot Report

City Commissioner Stephanie Singer

City Commissioner Stephanie Singer

Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer recently released a report which attempts to provide details as to why 27 thousand Philadelphians had to cast provisional ballots during this past November election. The report, conducted without the input of City Commissioner Co-chairs Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark, concludes that number “is not out of line with the general trend since provisional ballots were first introduced in 2004,” though details the reasons why provisional ballots were cast and what can be done to help fix the system.

Fourteen-thousand Philadelphians whose names appeared in the poll books or supplemental poll book sheets cast provisional ballots on Nov. 6th, as well as 5 thousand whose names did not appear in the books (most of which were due to the Pennsylvania Dept. of State’s programming) and 7 thousand were not counted because they weren’t valid, according to the report.

Singer says many Philadelphians who otherwise would have just left the polling place when their names weren’t found in the past, did not do so this year because of added stress on voting in general. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that, because of the publicity surrounding the Voter Photo ID Law enacted in 2012, more Philadelphians than ever before were aware of provisional ballots and their rights to use them,” according to the report. (PW can attest to the amount of people well aware of the Voter ID laws and what was required on Election Day, according to interviews conducted throughout the city on Nov. 6th.)

Among the recommendations suggested in the report, the City Commissioners could improve poll worker classes, contact a sample of voters who cast provisional ballots and “improve processes or public education to address the reasons identified by the survey,” come up with a system to educate poll workers on the spot when a credible source reports problems on election day, or work with the City Open Data office to “provide state-of-the-art access to public election-related information such as polling place locations.”

Singer’s report is one of several being conducted throughout the city to figure out what—if anything—went wrong on November 6th. That includes an audit by the City Controller’s office and a Mayor-appointed panel. So there will be much, much more where this came from.

Read the whole report here.

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