City, state and federal officials promise fair voting process

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Politicians gather before meeting with media. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Politicians gather before meeting with media. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others have warned about possible vote fraud in Philadelphia. That has spawned a strong response from both parties in the city.

Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Hughes,  D-Philadelphia, brought together local, state and federal officials to defend the integrity of voting in Philadelphia.  U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chair of the city Democratic Party, said a bipartisan effort is in place to safeguard the process.

“We’ll have an above-board election process that we will follow to the letter of the law,” said Brady Tuesday. “We do get along, and we do work together to make sure every vote counts.”

Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, oversees voting in Philadelphia.  The machines themselves cannot be corrupted remotely, he said. They are 14 years old and do not have internet access.

“We have checks and balances where the minority party is represented at the commissioner level all the way down to minority spots on every election board,” said Schmidt. “We conduct a thorough audit and data analysis of every election of all results and all materials far beyond what is required by law to identify any irregularities.”

David Thornburgh, who leads the bipartisan voter advocacy organization the Committee of Seventy, said the group has been monitoring elections in the city since 1904.

“The world and the nation are watching to see that we can, in fact, pull off an election with integrity and a high degree of confidence,: he said, “We’re confident that can occur, but we’re also vigilant, and I think that’s the proper spirit for this.”

Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union is part of a group called 866 Our Vote coalition.  She has encouraged people to speak up if they see fraud.

“I’ve been doing this since 2006, and we’ve put together hundreds of volunteers out in the field,” she said. “We have lawyers standing by, and there is an incredible amount of information on our website,  866ourvote.com.”

And although the event was supposed to be nonpartisan, City Council President Darrell Clarke sent a not-so-subtle message to Donald Trump.

“Be clear, this is all about this  guy with the funny hat stoking the fears of bias, and we are not going to have it,” Clarke said.

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