It’s been the secret and sometimes not-so-secret front of this election: Behind the scenes, efforts are underway on both sides of the aisle to amass armies of eagle-eyed volunteers to be dispatched to the polls on Nov. 8 to watch for signs of voter fraud. But in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold where Republican Donald Trump has warned the possibility of voter fraud is particularly acute, officials say it is the Democrats who lead in registering poll watchers, despite more oft-invoked Republican concerns about the integrity of the city’s electoral process. “Out of 66 wards, approximately 33 wards have applied on the Democratic side [to have lists of poll watching volunteers vetted and approved],” Joe Lynch, an assistant administrator of election activities with the city, told PennLive on Tuesday. By comparison, Republicans have only submitted such lists for 8 wards, Lynch added.
This may signify nothing more than the Democratic majority’s superior ability to organize here. Or it may just be the fact that the enrollment period for poll watchers will remain open for weeks yet.
Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: This city, in particular, is being closely watched to see if Trump’s “rigged election” alarm will resonate where he says it matters most.
For Republicans, Philadelphia remains a frustrating symbol of Democratic dominance, with a population — and Democratic-base — large enough to decide statewide elections. Over time, this frustration has coincided with questions about the propriety of the vote itself, and whether the city’s massive Democratic majority sometimes goes unchecked.