Negrin: Philly election was poorly managed

Negrin
Negrin
Posted: June 21, 2013

MAYOR NUTTER'S "Election Day Fact-Finding Team" released its report yesterday on the Nov. 6 election, in which the city saw an unprecedented spike in the use of provisional ballots.

City Managing Director Rich Negrin pointed the finger at poor management by the three city commissioners who run Philly's elections.

"It's all about management," Negrin said. "It's clear from this report that we need to do a better job."

By the numbers, the findings were not substantially different than previous reports on the topic. Of the 27,000 provisional ballots cast in November, about 19,000 were from people who were properly registered to vote in Philadelphia. Of those, 6,800 went to the wrong polling place, meaning they were supposed to cast provisional ballots.

An additional 12,294, however, were registered to vote and went to the right poll - but were still forced to vote provisionally, either because their names did not appear in the poll books due to a printing error or because the poll workers could not find them.

Provisional ballots are used when poll workers have questions about voters' registrations. They are certified and counted after Election Day. The 27,000 cast in Philly in 2012 were more than the previous two presidential elections combined.

Nutter announced the team - he stressed it was not an "investigation" - a month after the election and appointed several top administration officials to it.

Nutter has advocated for the city commissioners to be abolished as an independently elected row office and folded into the administration.

The commissioners declined to participate with the fact finders, saying that the probe was politically motivated, that there were no elections experts on the team and that it was not bipartisan. As a result, the report lacked details on several key issues.

Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, Philly's elections watchdog group, said the report supports his group's effort to reform the City Commission.

Elections should be run by "elections professionals schooled in the latest voting technologies and the increasingly varied methods of voting - not three inexperienced individuals with partisan loyalties," he said in a statement.

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