‘Your vote matters’: Philly officials talk election security, cured ballots ahead of Election Day

Election officials shared how voters can resolve ballot errors, and what to expect with a new tablet sign-in.

Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio

Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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On the eve of Pennsylvania’s primary, about 60,000 mail ballots were already waiting to be counted in Philadelphia. That’s about two-thirds of the 90,000 mail ballots that were requested, city election officials say.

But not all of those ballots will be counted.

Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio said more than 1,300 ballots were improperly dated by voters, creating a fatal flaw that leaves those votes invalid.

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“The courts have tightened the rules around mail-in balloting. They used to be very strict around signatures, but now they’ve ruled that the ballots have to be dated and dated correctly. So when you fill out your mail-in ballot, you have to make sure you put down the date that you signed it. Sometimes people get confused and put their birth date or they forget their date.”

The commissioners’ website lists the names of voters with ballots that were not properly completed, including those that are “naked.” Those naked ballots don’t include the proper outer envelope.

There is a separate website listing voters whose ballots have identification issues that need to be resolved.

The quickest way for those ballots to be resolved is for voters to go to City Hall, pick up a new ballot, and recast the vote. Those who can’t come to City Hall should go to their polling place Tuesday and vote using a provisional ballot.

Paper sign-in no more

Voters will see a change when they sign in to vote this year. Gone are the traditional paper signature books in favor of a tablet, that will be passed between the voter and the poll worker.

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“The only difference that voters will see, instead of the big paper poll book that they sign in on, it’ll be a tablet just like they see at Wawa or Dunkin or like that.”

Officials are hoping the first time out for the new way of signing in will be smooth.

They’re also beefing up police patrols to make sure the primary vote is done safely and securely. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said they will put police on the streets dedicated to voting security.

“These officers will be wearing body-worn cameras and will also be joined by a police department supervisor when responding. All of our patrol districts will have police officers ready to quickly respond to calls for assistance at every polling location,” Outlaw said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Kadida Kenner, who heads up the New Pennsylvania Project, added that everyone from all walks of life needs to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

“Your vote matters. And no matter if you are voting in person or at your polling precinct or hand-delivering your vote by mail ballot to your county Board of Elections, or conveniently usually in a drop box which are all over the city, please make sure you do so by tomorrow at 8 p.m.,” Kenner said.

Mayor Jim Kenney reminded people if they are in line at 8 p.m., they are eligible to vote no matter how long it takes.

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