Angry readers write: Why City Commissioners use Pa. voter database

The day after last week's election, the DN ran an IOM editorial about election processes in Phila and Pa, which included a critique to which the city commissioners objected. Their letter is below.

A NOV. 3 editorial mentions the Committee of Seventy's recommendations for improving elections locally, repeating its complaint that "citizens have to link through to a state website to find their polling locations, and that location changes were not always posted."

We have voters connect to a state database because our personnel must use the same state computer system with a Harrisburg database to perform our daily work on all voter registration and election records.

Federal law requires states to use a statewide system as the official database for voter registration. Pennsylvania law requires a central statewide system that includes election information, including polling places.

The state paid for and runs the system, but county election personnel are required to maintain our records on the system. Poll locations in this database are updated by our personnel as soon as a change occurs.

The state also established, and pays for, a polling-place locator application on its voter-information website,, that uses the county data in the state database.

The city commissioners find no "common sense" in spending city taxpayer money to develop, deploy and maintain a separate database and application to locate polls that would merely duplicate the services provided by the state.

Ironically, Seventy's website itself makes numerous references to the commonwealth's VotesPA website as a source for election information and forms, including polling places.

Bob Lee, Voter Registration Administrator

City Commissioners Office

Here's the Philadelphia Commissioners website. Here's the NYC Board of Elections website. Here's Chicago's.

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