Election Day and the not-so hyped up after party.
Ever wonder what a City Commissioner does after Election Day? I did, so I went to visit City Commissioner Stephanie Singer at City Hall – plus I had to pick up my leftover t-shirts from Drum Duel, a drum competition co-organized by Techbook Online where the winner was decided by ballot – the courtyard of City Hall served as the arena.
When I walked into her first floor office, her eyes were flirting with the computer screen and she was just ending a phone call. She turned to face me and let out a deep sigh that sounded like exhaustion in a scuffle with fatigue – no one wins that type of fight, I assure you.
For someone who’s job is to oversee fair and free elections in the City of Philadelphia, it would make sense that the mind and body would be a tad weary, especially considering how significant #Election2014 was and how big Philadelphia is: 1700 election districts safeguarded by roughly five poll workers each.
Philly did much better than expected in terms of voter turnout, though not as good as four years ago.
“385,000 ballots were casted on the machines,” she informs me, alluding to a roughly 40 percent voter turnout. “If Philly turned out 40 percent in every election that could have a dramatic impact on Judiciary offices; If Philly turned out 50 percent in every election that would have a serious impact on statewide offices: like U.S Senate and Governor,” said Commissioner Singer, who wishes for a 95 percent turnout in every election, though she understands that would take a really long time to achieve.
It’s a big, audacious goal, but Commissioner Singer dreams of one out of every two eligible adults voting twice a year, every year.
“It could turn the state blue,” she said, referring to how Democrat-heavy Philadelphians tends to vote.
The daydreaming only lasted seconds, as tomorrow, the first Friday after Election Day, is the canvass, which means the Board of Elections adds up all the votes that the districts reported and counts all the write-in, absentee and provisional ballots.
“It can take several people, several days to complete it,” she tells me, as we walk around City Hall – I with my bike, she with her dog.
The length of the canvass depends on the election and, mainly, how many write-in votes there are. In May’s primary election there were about 8,000 of them, many for Committee people.
Speaking of the Primary Election in May of 2014… Commissioner Singer says her colleagues, Mr. Al Schmidt and Anthony Clarke, certified the results in the party ward and committee membership races without allowing the five day period –which allows candidates to challenge the results from a particular division – to pass.
“It’s a violation of the election code… it’s against the law, she said, alerting me that she informed both the press and the Office of the District Attorney, but no one “picked up the story.”
I called both Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Clarke and neither one was available for comment. I reached out to the Office of the District Attorney and they referred me to the District Attorney’s Election Fraud Task Force.
Transparent elections is something Commissioner Singer seems to very serious about. She goes as far as calling the voters her “customers,” and says she aims to provide the best customer service to “voters, candidates and poll workers.”
On Election Day, that customer service looks like arriving at City Hall at 7am – after visiting a few polling places in her neighborhood – and answering phone calls. Once 9am comes around the calls die down, she says, which means it’s time to visit more polling places, which then becomes a citywide expedition.
The more and more we talked, my interest for what happens after Election Day grew – but so did my frustration, because I learned that impeaching an elected official in Philadelphia is impossible without changing state law. As Commissioner Singer tells it, the worst you can do to a politician in this city is to not re-elect them.
Changing the state law will be another big, audacious goal, but one that may be worth it to the public to fight, as it’ll even out the good and bad in our democracy.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™