Committee of Seventy
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Linkedin  Youtube  
Join us in our campaign for better government. Become a member today.

November 4, 2022

Nov. 8 midterms: Get your votes cast and sit tight

Voting ends Tuesday at 8 pm, but there may not be definitive results in close races until county election boards have had time to process and tabulate the million-plus mail in ballots cast statewide. About 70% of mail-in voters will be Democrats, so the unofficial vote tallies posted online are also likely to shift over the course of Tuesday night and the next day. In short, everyone should sit tight while county officials do their jobs.

As C70 CEO Al Schmidt wrote in the PA Capital-Star: “We all need to be patient next week. Candidates and parties, in particular, will need to be responsible and not distort or misconstrue incomplete, unofficial results. Losing a race for public office is hard. But nothing is worth tearing away at our democratic traditions and fraying the public’s trust in our elections. We’ll know the winners soon enough.”

Make sure you're ready: Check your registration. Find your polling place. And if you still have a mail-in ballot, return it to a drop-off location by 8pm on Election Day, Nov. 8. See the return options for Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, Philadelphia counties, and for all of PA’s 67 counties.

If mistakes were made (by you): You still might be able to fix minor errors or get a replacement ballot. And every voter always has the option of requesting a provisional ballot at their polling place. The Inquirer has details.

Kenyatta Johnson was acquitted but councilmanic prerogative wasn’t

2nd District City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, were acquitted this week after a second trial on the question of whether a consulting contract to Chavous from individuals seeking Johnson’s help with properties in his district amounted to a bribe. This matter is over, but there continues to be unfinished business from the conviction of former Councilmember Bobby Henon. The city’s conflicts-of-interest rules are 70 years old and in need of a rewrite; and the Inspector General’s office should finally be made a permanent fixture with purview across all city agencies, including City Council and the row offices. See Seventy's statement from Johnson's first trial.

The elephant in the courtroom: The practice of City Council deferring to district members on land-use decisions within their districts has led to the convictions of six council members since 1981. “The bigger issue looming over this particular trial is the practice of councilmanic prerogative and the ethical risks, both real and perceived, that come from it,” C70 policy director Pat Christmas told The Inquirer. “As long as that practice exists and can be exercised, we’re going to continue to have risks come about.”

Eye on City Hall

Caught Our Eye

Sport your civic participation (in nine languages): Beginning this year, certain voting materials are available in nine languages including Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Haitian, Khmer, Arabic and Portuguese. Download the materials.

On Our Radar

PA’s dating scene: The shorthanded PA Supreme Court deadlocked on the lawsuit to bar counties from counting undated ballots but ordered counties to “refrain” from counting them until the full seven-member court can rule. The court also ordered them not to count ballots that are “incorrectly” dated. The Inquirer sorts out what that could mean.

SCOTUS passes on state maps: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear PA House majority leader Kerry Benninghoff’s legal challenge to the new General Assembly redistricting maps on grounds of racial gerrymandering.

Track City Council votes: The Philadelphia Citizen urges City Council to post member votes on bills and resolutions on Council’s official website where the public can find them easily.

We can do better: Recent rises notwithstanding, the U.S. ranks slightly below the middle of the pack in voter turnout worldwide, according to a Pew Research Center survey that ranks us 31st of 50 countries measured.

A helping hand up: WHYY follows Philly 17-year-olds as they register their 18-year-old classmates to vote in the Nov. 8 midterms.

Morning Al: C70 CEO Al Schmidt discussed election security on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and on WHYY’s Radio Times. Schmidt also offered advice to The Inquirer on how to avoid being duped by election misinformation.

Ending on a sour note: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra paid $30K to take two PA lawmakers to Europe. Spotlight PA reports that this excursion is the type of job perk that a gift ban would make impossible for elected officials and others in government, but the legislature has failed to pass one.

Get Involved

Build Your Own Ballot

Seventy’s nonpartisan Build Your Ballot voter guide has plenty of information about all the candidates and questions on ballots throughout PA. Just type in your address to pull up an overview of your ballot.

Poll Worker Q&A Session

Mon., Nov. 7, 7:30-8:30 pm | Zoom

Have any final questions about your duties and responsibilities at your polling place Tuesday? We’ll answer them during this election-eve session. RSVP.

SEAMAAC Civic Engagement Election Volunteer Opportunities

Fri., Nov. 4 -Tues., Nov. 8

SEAMAAC is seeking volunteers for GOTV canvassing over the weekend and voter protection on Election Day at South Philly polling places with high populations of limited-English speaking voters. All volunteers are welcome, but those who speak two or more languages are especially needed. Register.


Election Day Parties at the Polls

Tue., Nov. 8 12-6 pm | Five Locations

Join the Committee of Seventy and our sponsoring partners PA Youth Vote, League of Women Voters of Philadelphia, and SEAMAAC for music, food, giveaways and selfie stations five locations in Philadelphia on Election Day:

  • Lincoln High School (3201 Ryan Ave)
  • Roxborough High School (6498 Ridge Ave)
  • Cecil B Moore Recreation Center (2551 N 22nd St)
  • West Philadelphia High School (4901 Chestnut St)
  • Ford Recreation Center (609 Snyder Ave)

Impact of the Midterm Elections on PA's Business Climate & Health of Our Democracy

Tue., Nov. 15, 12 noon | Zoom

The results of the November election will have a consequential impact on the health of the state’s economy and democracy. Join Business for America for a discussion on how the state of politics may influence the Commonwealth’s ability to retain its competitive edge, attract industry, and encourage or discourage collaboration among lawmakers on issues important to Pennsylvanians. Speakers include Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer Dan Pearson, Laura Putnum of PittCyber, Fair Districts PA executive director Carol Kuniholm and Aizaz Gill, Business for America's policy director. RSVP.

Informed: Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age

Nov. 28 - 30 | Online

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation presents a three-day virtual conference where 30-plus policymakers, researchers and private-sector executives will discuss the latest trends and research in this emerging field at the intersection of technology, media and democracy. Discussions will focus on election and information integrity, and the role of government and journalists in protecting; policies that can reduce online hate and harassment and protect equal access to digital space; and competition in the tech sector, among others. RSVP.

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