Are Philly city commissioners ready for the election?

    During last year’s general election, more than a few things went awry in Philadelphia.

    The City Commissioners who run elections said they’re taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

    Last year, about 27,000 Philadelphians were forced to vote by provisional ballots, which are counted later than votes cast on machines. 

    Al Schmidt, vice chairman of the commission, said that more than one-third of those voters accidentally went to the wrong polling places. This year, the commission staff is providing tools to help lost voters, such as signs in each polling place stating the ward and division.

    “We also provided maps to each election board, showing their division or precinct, and the neighboring divisions or precincts,” Schmidt said. “So someone can say … ‘I see you’re on this side of Henry Avenue, not that side of Henry Avenue. You vote at that polling place over there.'”

    Ellen Kaplan, vice president of the government watchdog group Committee of Seventy, said that won’t fix everything.

    “There were other voters whose names should have been in the poll books, or at least in the supplemental poll book pages, that weren’t,” she said. “We’ll see if those problems have been resolved.”

    That wasn’t the only snag last year. Some polling places turned away court-ordered Republican poll inspectors, who are official election board members. According to an internal report, the commission didn’t receive a list of the GOP inspectors until a few days before the election, meaning that some election boards might not have gotten that information in time.

    Now, Schmidt said, the commission will be obtaining the list — and sending it out to election boards — sooner.

    Mayor Michael Nutter appointed a “fact-finding” team to look into problems that arose during last year’s election.

    Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the team’s report “is being reviewed now and we expect to make an announcement in the very near future.”

    A low percentage of voters are expected to come out for this year’s primary election. Kaplan said the real test will be whether the City Commission can pull off an election that attracts a high turnout.

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