Philly, Pa. officials differ on whether computer glitch caused Election Day problem

    A Philadelphia elections official says a state computer glitch left about 5,000 voters off the rolls on Election Day, but that their votes on paper ballots were counted. State officials don’t think it was their mistake.


    On Election Day, there were widespread reports of registered voters showing up at polling places and being told they weren’t on the rolls. They were allowed to cast paper ballots, which could be counted once their registration status was verified.

    A record 27,000 provisional ballots were cast in Philadelphia this November.

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    A new review by City Commissioner Stephanie Singer concludes that 5,000 duly registered citizens didn’t appear on the voter rolls because of a “software malfunction” in the Pennsylvania-run voter registry.

    But Singer said those provisional votes were cast and counted.

    “In a perfect election, they would not have had to use provisional ballots,” Singer said in a telephone interview. “On the other hand, they voted and their votes were counted, and that’s a real win. That is exactly what provisional ballots are for.”

    Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said his staff doesn’t believe there was a state computer glitch. He says city officials haven’t given his agency any information supporting that charge, and that Philadelphia is the only county in the state that reported such a problem.

    The Singer report found that 14,000 voters whose names were on voter rolls cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons. Many showed up at the wrong polling place. In some cases, poll workers looked in the wrong place for the voter’s name. And voters are allowed to ask for a provisional ballot any time half the voting machines in a polling place are inoperable.

    The report also found that 7,000 provisional ballots were not counted because those who cast them were not properly registered.

    You can read the entire report here.

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