Nutter launches probe into Election Day problems

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks to the media outside of the White House, after Vice President Biden met with mayors from cities across the country to talk about taxes and the economy, in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Mayor Nutter on Friday announced the creation of a six-member “fact-finding” team to examine voting problems in Philadelphia in this year’s presidential election.

Voting irregularities, which led to an increase in the number of voters who were forced to cast provisional ballots, created “a dark cloud over what should have been … one of the most exciting elections in the history of the United States of America,” Nutter said.

The team will be led by city Managing Director Rich Negrin. The other members are: Hope Caldwell, deputy to the city chief integrity officer; Jordan Schwartz, who works for the mayor’s chief of staff; Terry Gillen, the city’s liaison with the federal government; Pastor Kevin Johnson, of Bright Hope Baptist Church; and Nicole Harrington, a deputy in the Inspector General’s Office.

The fact finders, Nutter said, will look into “the accuracy and integrity of our voter-roll system,” the training standards for poll workers, “Election Day communication and coordination” and other issues.

The three city commissioners, who oversaw the election, released a report this week that found that a majority of voters who cast provisional ballots were properly registered in Philadelphia. About two-thirds of those people showed up at the wrong polling locations – many of which have moved since the last presidential election.

Nutter criticized the commissioners after the election but backed away from that talk on Friday, saying they had pledged to cooperate with his probe.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz had previously announced he is conducting an investigation of the election. The Mayor’s Office on Friday said the probe could present a conflict of interests because he is running for re-election in 2013.

“Given that Mr. Butkovitz is up for re-election, the mayor feels it is inappropriate for the controller to be engaged in an inquiry into the officials who are overseeing that election,” said mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald.

Butkovitz said the statement “doesn’t make any sense” because he is “responsible for auditing all city departments all of the time.”

“The problems with this election are of such significance that I think it’s a good idea for as many eyes as possible to take a look at that and get to the bottom of it,” he said.

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