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

September 9, 2022

Special elections called for two District Council seats

As expected, the post-Labor Day rush to the exits for City Council mayoral hopefuls happened on cue, as member Derek Green (at-large), Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (District 7) and Cherelle Parker (District 9) resigned to run. Allan Domb (at-large) resigned last month, but hasn’t yet dropped the other shoe. That leaves the 17-member Council with four vacancies when it reconvenes next Thursday, and if Helen Gym (at-large) announces her candidacy it would be five. But two will now be filled by special elections on the November 8 ballot, after Council President Darrell Clarke today exercised his power to schedule such elections. As the Inquirer reports, two empty at-large seats will remain, but the number of votes on Council needed to pass legislation (9) or override a mayoral veto (12) is expected to stay the same.

Dispatches from the City Hall Rumor Mill:

City Hall watcher Lauren Vidas’ coverage of the mayor’s race begins with profiles of the candidates (announced and unannounced). Her City Hall Roll Call reports on the weekly City Council meetings will resume next Thursday. Look for it here. 

Wait for mail-in ballots:

The Inquirer notes that special elections may cause a delay in the delivery of mail-in ballots, but the alternative would be to leave the seats empty until later in 2023.

City Commissioners sweeten the pot for poll workers

In an effort to fill the depleted ranks of Philadelphia poll workers, City Commissioner Omar Sabir announced Wednesday that he and his colleagues will vote to raise the pay of democracy’s essential workers to $200 for their Election Day duties, which begin before 7 am and extend past 8 pm when polls close. Poll workers who attend an official training session will earn an additional $50 if they also work on Election Day. The current rate ($120 for judges of the elections; $115 for the others), works out to about $8.25 an hour; the expected raise will bump it above $10. As C70 CEO Al Schmidt put it to NBC10: "If we truly value our democracy, it's important to invest in it."

How it’s supposed to work:

Judges of elections and majority and minority inspectors are elected in each of Philly’s 1,703 voting precincts every four years (next election: 2025).

Become a poll worker:

Join Seventy for "So you want to be a poll worker?" — an introductory info session available to prospective election workers in Philly and across the commonwealth. Sessions on special procedures and general Q&As are also scheduled this fall. Learn more.

Caught Our Eye

Elija bien sus noticias: Axios reports on a new bipartisan site that will curate news—and call out disinformation—about America’s 30 million-plus Latino voters. Here’s more from C70 on Choosing Your News Wisely, one of our Five Habits of Active Citizenship.

On Our Radar

More chances to register: The Wolf administration is expanding the number of places where voter-registration forms will be available. Spotlight PA reports that locations will include libraries, state park offices and state-run veterans homes, and that 1.7 million eligible Pennsylvanians are currently unregistered.

Election deniers on the ballot: finds that 60% of U.S. voters—including those in Pennsylvania—will have at least one election denier on their ballot.

Audit activism: After receiving a petition with more than 3,000 signatures, Lycoming County’s Commissioners signed off on a November ballot question to discontinue the county’s electronic vote-tabulating system and revert to the less-accurate and more time-consuming method of hand counting, reports PennLive.

The cost of drawing the lines: Harrisburg lawmakers spent at least $3 million in taxpayer money on outside law firms and experts as they lobbied for their preferred political maps during the recent redistricting cycle, according to invoices obtained by Spotlight PA.

Legal battle over ballot curing: The RNC is suing the Wolf administration because of its instructions to allow counties to let voters fix trivial mistakes on their mail-in ballots. So-called “curing” of ballots is common in states with widespread mail-in voting and is yet another issue that could be addressed by reform to the state’s election code.

Seventy observations on the midterms: CEO Al Schmidt told CBS3 that campaign visits to PA by President Biden and former President Trump “may not drive more people to the polls, but of people who will vote it will make sure they know it’s important.” And Chief Program Officer Lauren Cristella spoke to 6ABC bout the surge of women registering to vote: "People are understanding the power of their voice and their vote. Elections have consequences and, this November, there's a stark choice on the ballot.”

Get Involved

Become a Poll Worker

If you're thinking of becoming an essential worker for democracy, join us for "So you want to be a poll worker?" — an introductory poll worker training session available to prospective election workers across the commonwealth. Sessions on special procedures and general Q&As are also scheduled this fall. Learn more.


Securing Your Vote: Business Briefing on PA Election Operations

Mon., Sept. 12, 1:30 pm | Zoom

Business for America presents a briefing by Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman on the Department of State’s efforts to prepare for the November general election and how we can maximize the engagement of employees, customers and community members for it. The Pennsylvania business community plays an essential role by ensuring that accurate election information is distributed to its stakeholders so we all can have confidence that our elections are secure, accessible and efficient. Register.

Fixing Outmoded Election Laws for Business and the Economy

Tues., Sept. 13, 3:30 pm | Zoom

Election-law experts Rick Pildes (NYU) and Ned Foley (Ohio State University) and Stanford University political scientists Larry Diamond and Did Kuo offer insights on election-law legislation, particularly the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform Act, and consider reform priorities in an online forum moderated by Robin Weaver, president emerita of the Women’s National Republican Club. Register.

PA Youth Voting Summit

Sat., Sept. 17, 9 am - 5 pm | CCP | 1700 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia

Campus Vote Project’s seventh Pennsylvania Youth Voting Summit invites participants to come together for a day of civic learning, reflection, and organizing. The event is open to high school and college students, faculty and administrators, and partners actively engaged in the nonpartisan youth voting space. Register for the event and learn more about C70’s Youth Civics program.

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