Report provides some answers to Election Day provisional ballot issue

The City Commissioners Office is a step closer to finding out why more than 27,000 voters were required to cast provisional ballots Election Day.

Staffer Gregory Irving presented a report during Wednesday’s meeting that showed 27,355 voters voted provisionally more than double the 12,733 who voted by provisional ballot in 2008. Of which 19,670 were registered voters and 14,407 were located in the poll books and supplemental sheets.

According to the report many voters went to the wrong divisions to vote and consequently voted provisionally. Provisional voting is when the voter fills out a paper ballot which is counted once the voter’s registration is confirmed. City Commissioner Al Schmidt has said that 650 of the city’s 1,687 voting divisions had moved since 2008 and could have caused confusion among voters.

In other cases, though Election Boards at polling places could not locate the names of voters in either the poll books or the supplemental lists. Supplemental lists are printed in-house by the City Commissioners and include late-processed registrations.

In the report released today showed that there were 5,263 voters who voted provisionally and were registered to vote in Philadelphia, but were missing from the poll books and supplemental lists. Schmidt said staff will further investigate how that happened.

The report reveals two possible scenarios for the problem: voters who registered to vote before turning 18, but would have been 18 by Election Day –their registration status was not properly updated prior to the printing of polling material and in some cases there was an undetermined problem in extracting voter information from SURE the state’s database which caused some individuals who should have been in the books to be excluded.

Concerns regarding poll worker training were also raised. Irving said about 4,000 –half of poll workers did not attend training.

More than 4,000 provisional ballots were cast by voters who were not registered to vote or not registered in Pennsylvania.

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