June 3, 2022
C70’s precinct strategy: Polling places staffed by nonpartisan poll workers

This week, The New York Times, Politico, Vanity Fair and the PBS Newshour ran stories on efforts by Republicans to place poll workers and poll watchers with immediate access to GOP election lawyers in heavily Democratic areas, both at polling places and at locations where votes are counted. Steve Bannon is a major voice behind what they’re calling their “precinct strategy.” The implications raised in the articles are scary, but the truth is that we all need both Republicans and Democrats to be poll workers and poll watchers, and as long as they don’t try to intimidate voters or election officials, or slow the voting process to lengthen the time voters spend waiting to vote, they’re performing their civic duty. Join them. “Volunteer to work the polls,” C70 CEO Al Schmidt urges in a PA Capital-Star commentary. “There’s nothing stopping anyone from getting a front-row seat to democracy and seeing for themselves how secure the system is.” Read the full commentary.
  • How to "work the polls"? Politics PA describes the duties of poll workers and poll watchers, and enumerates what partisan poll watchers are legally entitled to do. One thing they can’t do is talk to voters.
  • How to become a poll worker: Check out C70’s poll worker resources and stay tuned for an announcement of upcoming poll worker info sessions for the Nov. 8 election
Senate-race recount: Odds are it’ll be Oz

If we’re shown to be wrong about this we apologize in advance, and we’re not making the prediction ourselves in any event. It was actually made by Deb Otis, the research director at FairVote, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes election reforms, who was quoted in Thursday’s PennLive update on the GOP Senate race. “We would expect to see something more like a shift of less than 100 votes in a margin this close” (slightly less than 1000 votes), Otis told the Harrisburg news outlet. And it’s not likely that the undated mail-in ballots that Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick are fighting over would make much of a difference, since there are only about 860 of them, and while McCormick’s lead among the already-counted 80,000 mail-in ballots the two have received is clear (57%), it’s not overwhelming. Meanwhile, as Schmidt put it in the PA Capital-Star: “We are grateful that the 2022 primary’s counting and recounting—though frustratingly slow to voters and officials eager for a result—have been largely uninterrupted by the same 2020 lies that mail-in ballots are somehow more susceptible to fraud. Both the McCormick and Oz campaigns have rejected notions that mail-in ballots are anything less than legitimate.”
Ward Reorganization meetings, June 6

Monday is Election Day for Philly’s Ward leaders, and The Inquirer’s Clout column reports that two longtime Democratic politicos, former City Council members Bill Greenlee (Fairmount’s 15th Ward) and Jannie Blackwell (West Philly’s 46th), might be booted out of their Ward-leader posts by the newly elected Committee people in their Wards. (An ominous sign for Blackwell: She lost her Committee slot on May 17.) And in Hunting Park and Franklinville, State Rep. Danilo Burgos is challenging 43rd Ward leader Emilio Vazquez. Burgos, an ally of Council member Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, defeated Vazquez for the seat in Harrisburg he currently holds. Competitive elections are always good things, but too many Ward leaders have run their wards in a manner that’s less than democratic. Groups like Open Wards Philadelphia are working to change this.
  • An amen to that: Open Wards Philly steering-committee member Vanessa McGrath and One PA executive director Steve Paul, both of whom are Committee members themselves, discuss the importance of small-d democracy in Philly’s wards in an Inquirer op-ed.
Women in Public Leadership: C70’s inaugural Women in Public Leadership event took place May 26, and featured 6abc’s Tamala Edwards moderating a conversation between Rep. Joanna McClinton, the first woman and African American to serve as the House Democratic Leader, and Rep. Martina White, the first woman to chair the Philadelphia GOP. 
On our radar
Independent voters want to be heard. Is anybody listening? In a Fulcrum commentary, Seventy's Ballot PA chair David Thornburgh and Open Primaries president John Opdycke make a case for open primaries in PA, where, they assert, 80 to 90% of all legislative races are decided before nonaligned voters have a chance to weigh in.

MarchOnHarrisburg chief vents: Rabbi Michael Pollack, the frustrated executive director of the statewide good-government group, complains to the PA Capital-Star about the General Assembly leadership’s unwillingness to move on gift-ban bills and outlines a plan to work around them. And Spotlight PA lists the gifts the leaders reported receiving in 2021.

Mum's the word: The Inquirer reports that ousted GOP Ward leader Billy Lanzilotti invoked the Fifth Amendment at a City Commissioners hearing on his role in diverting mail ballots requested by dozens of South Philly Republicans to a P.O. box he controlled.

Reregister? The Associated Press runs down the legal and constitutional hurdles that R Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s proposal would have to overcome if he were to try require all of PA’s nine million registered voters to reregister. The article also reviews the reregistration requirements in the Jim Crow South and elsewhere during the 20th century.
Get Involved
Apply for a Buchholz Fellowship

After a successful launch in 2017, our fifth cohort of Buchholz Fellows are concluding their year as “junior members” of C70’s Board of Directors. Now we’re seeking our sixth cohort. Buchholz Fellows are emerging young leaders (recommended age is 25-35ish) working in the private or nonprofit sector who embody the qualities that longtime Seventy stalwart Carl Buchholz exhibited in his life and work: personal and professional integrity, a strong work ethic, collaborative spirit, a superior intellect and a passion for improving his community. Applications will be open until Friday, Aug. 26. Apply.
The Forum of Executive Women: America After Roe
Thurs., July 7, 5 pm

In anticipation of the Supreme Court's official decision regarding abortion access in America by the end of the current term, the Forum of Executive Women invites you to join renowned New York University law professor Melissa Murray, an expert in constitutional law; and national strategy consultant Aletheia Henry for a discussion of the real-world implications of this historic decision and where America goes from here. The conversation will be moderated by Forum member and Chief Learning Officer of the National Constitution Center, Dr. Kerry Sautner. Register.
For the first time since our founding in 1904, Seventy has created a membership program to broaden, diversify and expand our community of local democracy-builders. Your membership also provides unique opportunities to meet civic leaders and policy experts, gain inside knowledge of the reform process, and connect with people who are passionate about our city and commonwealth.
Become a member today!