May 14, 2021
May 18 Primary: Voting ends Tuesday. Are you ready?

Polls will be open for in-person voting on Tuesday beginning at 7am. Closing time is 8pm, but anyone already in line by then will be able to cast their ballot. For most registered voters it’ll be the same place as last November but some polling places have changed. Check here for your polling place. If you’re voting by mail-in ballot, drop boxes and a few satellite election offices are available in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Philly officials are also holding ballot drop-off events at other locations through Monday. If you applied for a mail-in ballot but haven’t received it yet, or if you lost your ballot, you can request a replacement ballot, but you’ll have to go to your county election board office to do so. Or you can go to your polling place, but you’ll have to vote with a provisional ballot, which won’t be counted until election officials confirm that you didn’t also return your mail-in ballot.
  • Vote-by-mail stats: A total of 817,247 Pennsylvanians requested mail-in ballots by the May 11 deadline. According to the PA Department of State, 71.1% are Democrats, 21.7% are Republicans, and 7.3% are other. As of Wednesday, 40.5% had already returned their ballots.
  • Vote smart: Build your own ballot with C70’s BYOBallot Tool. Type in your address and you’ll find information on candidates and ballot questions you’ll be voting on in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. 
  • Hear from candidates: Check out Studio C70 interviews with folks running for city and suburban judicial and political offices. 
  • How to choose judges: WHYY and the Philadelphia Citizen have useful judicial-election guides. And WHYY also has one for suburban judicial elections.
If you’re not a Republican or Democrat you can’t vote for candidates. Yet...

The General Assembly could change that. This week, Rep. Chris Quinn of Delaware County introduced legislation that would allow the nearly 900,000 independent voters in Pennsylvania unaffiliated with any political party to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries. We expect similar legislation in the Senate soon. An open primaries proposal passed the Senate 42-8 in the last session, demonstrating bipartisan support for the reform. Given how primaries are often the only election that matters, the status quo that shuts out more than one in 10 voters is taxation without representation.
Election Reform: What’s possible?

On Monday, PA House State Government Committee chair Seth Grove (R-York) released a 99-page report outlining changes the GOP would like to see to the state’s 1937 election code. Among other things, it calls for voter ID for all voters (not just first-time voters, as is currently the case), applying polling-place rules (including partisan poll watchers) to drop boxes and satellite election offices, signature verification for mail-in ballots, and earlier registration and mail-in-ballot application deadlines. The Inquirer calls the proposal “sweeping” and says that Democrats have “generally approached the issue with skepticism.” The GOP-controlled Legislature would have to work with Governor Wolf on any viable election package, so we say: Find a compromise. A non-restrictive voter ID requirement with same-day registration, which is common in other states, has something for both sides. The underlying impetus for further reform continues to be helping the counties, which remain burdened with too many antiquated provisions for both mail-in and in-person voting.
  • Funding needed too: The Philadelphia City Commissioners asked Council for a $7M bump in their budget hearing. Every county will need more money to ensure smooth operations.
Caught our eye
On our radar
Everybody else is out of step: Chester County’s Daily Local News reports that all but one member of the county’s caucus in Harrisburg has co-sponsored the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act.
Know what you pay for? Not so much in Harrisburg: The General Assembly spends an average of $51M on itself each year, according to Spotlight PA, which complains that far too much of that money is difficult if not impossible to trace.
PSERS-investment details: PA’s teachers’ retirement fund put more than half its assets into risky alternative investments. The New York Times’s DealBook has details on just what those investments were, and why they led to the current federal investigation.
Sheriff sales legit? Is the contract for the online auctions legal? If not, does that invalidate sales? Council member Helen Gym asked those questions last month. The Inquirer reports on what she found out.
Get Involved
Standby Poll Workers Needed Tuesday

Poll workers are democracy’s essential workers and our elections cannot run smoothly without the dedication of poll workers! On Primary Day (this Tuesday, May 18), the Committee of Seventy will work with the Philadelphia City Commissioners to dispatch Back-Up Poll Workers to polling places around town that have vacancies. It is important to note it is not a guarantee that you will serve as a poll worker if you sign up to be a Backup Poll Worker, but you will be called on if an opening is reported at a polling place near you. Please see this form for more information and to sign up.
DIY with DTL: Draw the Lines Mapmaking Competition - Deadline: June 1

You have until June 1st to finish your map for the final Draw the Lines competition. This is the last contest before we start drawing for PA’s Congressional and General Assembly maps for real this fall. Remember, you have a chance to win up to $2,500 for your entry. This is the best way for you to demonstrate to the political pros that you are paying attention and ready to contribute to the real map drawing process later this year!
Philly LWV’s Election Night (Virtual) Party
Tues., May 18, 7-8:30 pm

Join the League of Women Voters Philadelphia as the election results roll in! We'll chat about the League, our priorities for the year, and ways you can get involved. Plus, our friends at Triple Bottom Brewing have generously offered us a 10% discount for the occasion! Get your orders in by 11am on Thursday or Friday (depending on your location) for delivery or order in advance for a scheduled pick-up Thursday-Sunday. Order online and use code WOMENVOTE for 10% off. Register. Not a League member? The event is open to everyone! If you would like to become a member of LWV Philly, sign up.
Divided We Fall: How Business Can Depolarize the U.S.
Thurs., May 20, June 3 and June 17, 12-1:30 pm
Tues., June 29, 12-1:30 pm

Deepening political divisions pose a threat to our nation. It’s a concern that goes beyond the GOP’s right turn and the Democrats’ shift leftward—polarization and government dysfunction are debilitating the country’s ability to solve big problems. Join the Niskanen Center and Business for America for this four-part webinar, which will explore root causes of political polarization, its social and economic impacts, and what the business community can do to reduce it. The speakers are Didi Kuo, a senior scholar at Stanford University and a Niskanen fellow; Sarah Longwell, CEO, Longwell Partners; and Mark Mizruchi, a professor of sociology and management & organizations at the University of Michigan Mark Ross School of Business: First session (May 20): Understanding Polarization: An existential threat to business and democracy. Register.
For the first time in our 117-year history, 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!