Wednesday, February 10, 2016

GOP Commissioner alleges voter fraud, but colleague questions findings

Note: This post has been updated.*

GOP Commissioner alleges voter fraud, but colleague questions findings

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Note: This post has been updated.*

Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt says non-citizens are voting in Philadelphia elections – and it’s happened at least seven times in the past decade.

Schmidt today put out a report on an investigation his office conducted into voter fraud. A staff review of about a dozen polling places found examples in recent years of non-registered voters casting ballots, voters pulling the lever more than once, voter impersonation and non-citizens getting in the booth.

Overall, Schmidt said he found hundreds of irregularities. But, as with non-citizens casting ballots, the examples are quite limited and just what is fraud is unclear. Schmidt found one incidence of a person voting twice and 23 examples of non-registered individuals voting. On non-citizen voting, the report cited three examples and noted that their investigation showed the seven non-citizens voting over the past decade.

Schmidt also stressed that the report is a "snapshot" of voting problems, not a comprehensive review.

“Some are fraud. Some are clearly mistakes. But they are all voting irregularities and they all impact the results of elections equally,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the report had nothing to do with the state’s new Voter ID law, pushed through in Harrisburg earlier this year by the GOP-controlled legislature. He said his office worked independently on the report and the two Democratic Commissioners were not involved.

“Different offices take the lead on different things. This is an independently elected office,” Schmidt said.

But Chairwoman of the Commissioners Stephanie Singer slammed the report, noting the limited examples of irregularities and pointing out that much of the content was years old.

"I don't know why he has put his name on a report like this, which seems like a stunt to manipulate the press," Singer said.

She said the report gave her the "ultimate confidence" that there was no voter impersonation in the 2012 primary, noting that Schmidt's only example of impersonation was in 2007.

* This post has been updated to reflect that the report cites seven incidences of non-citizen voting, but three were used as specific examples.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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