A Philadelphia election official says more than 27,000 voters had to cast provisional ballots in the city last Tuesday, apparently confirming reports from citizens and election watchdogs that there were an unusual number of glitches at city polling places. City Commissioner Al Schmidt said the 27,100 provisional ballots is roughly twice as many as were cast in the last presidential election. The number is equal to about 4 percent of the ballots cast using electronic voting machines. Provisional ballots are paper ballots used when a voter’s registration status is in doubt. The ballot is sealed and opened once the voter’s status is verified.
A few days after upstart Republican Al Schmidt clobbered incumbent Joseph Duda and wrenched away the tightly held (by the GOP establishment) position of City Commissioner in last November’s general election, one source said to this reporter something like this: People think Al Schmidt’s some kind of progressive. But just you wait: He’s a snake in the grass. Something about the quotation stuck. Schmidt, after all, is a kind of political enigma here in Philadelphia: a Republican who’s managed to capture the attention, imagination and even votes of both restless Philly Republicans and local progressives, many of whom noticed over the last year that Schmidt had the habit — unusual among the entrenched political establishment of both parties — of answering questions, returning phone calls and engaging in intelligent, nuanced debate about his ideas. Still, he was (and remains) a Republican. And that raised an important question during his campaign, since the three City Commissioners have the incredibly sensitive job of running local elections: What did Schmidt think of laws requiring photo ID at polling places, being pushed by members of his own party in Harrisburg? Schmidt said at the time that he opposed the voter-ID law “as it was written,” noting that it was an “unfunded mandate.” Which meant, if you thought about it, that he didn’t necessarily oppose it because its obvious intent — here and in every state considering such legislation — was to squelch Democratic votes.
Editorials: Pennsylvania voter ID law will cut turnout, not fraud | Karen Heller/Philadelphia Inquirer
Let us return to the tale of one Joseph Cheeseboro. Or possibly Joseph Cheeseborough. The city resident loves those machines, having voted under both names in eight elections, going so far as to cast ballots twice in the 2007 primary and the general, using a 7-Eleven on South Broad as one address. Perhaps voting so often makes Joe parched for a Slurpee. Last week, he was cited as the prime example of voter fraud by Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt. Then again, Joe Cheeseboro/borough is the only known example of voter impersonation in Philadelphia. This irregularity, along with the other findings in Schmidt’s study, has been previously reported. At his news conference, Schmidt wanted to make clear – please don’t read this while drinking coffee – this had nothing to do with Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, which is being challenged in Commonwealth Court this week, leaving 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania and 18 percent of Philadelphia voters without proper credentials. The law is as adored by Republicans as it is loathed by Democrats. No, nothing whatsoever to do with the law or politics. Let the games begin! “Philadelphia is, without question, one of our nation’s most infested epicenters for rampant election fraud and corruption,” said Butler County Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who clearly isn’t planning to spend his vacation here. State GOP chair Rob Gleason released an e-mail blast soliciting donations based on Schmidt’s report: “Are you as outraged by this as I am? Enough is enough, and we need to act now! Click to donate $15, $25, $50 or more today to help us combat voter fraud in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.” He added, “Donate today and stand up to the liberals to help us protect Pennsylvania’s elections.”
Pennsylvania: Schmidt says fraud, Singer says stunt over report on Philadelphia voting irregularities | Philadelphia City Paper
City Commissioner Al Schmidt released a report today claiming widespread voting “irregularities” and potential “voter fraud,” in Philadelphia. The report is almost sure to attract at least some attention from the national GOP, which has used the specter of voting fraud as a justification for a slew of voter ID laws around the country, even though very few instances of voter fraud have been uncovered nationally. This spring, both Schmidt, a Republican, and City Commissioners Chairwoman Stephanie discussed findings of voting irregularities, holding a joint press conference to announce that some machines had reported more votes than were recorded in poll logs, and promising to conduct an investigation. But today’s report was produced by solely by Schmidt and his office; minutes before his press conference, Singer told this reporter that her office had just seen the report for the first time. We’ll have more on this soon, but Schmidt essentially reported having found 7 types of voting “irregularities” in Philadelphia’s 2012 primary election. Of those, three or four — notably, “voter impersonation,” “individuals voting more than once,” might, he said, constitute fraud. It’s worth noting here that Schmidt’s investigation found very few instances of these alleged crimes. Schmidt reports one (1) case of voter impersonation, which dates back to 2007 and which has already been reported. The reports cites one (1) example of someone allegedly voting twice. The report also found 7 voters who voted in the last ten years and were subsequently rejected from the rolls because they were not U.S. citizens. It’s also worth noting that recently-passed voter ID laws wouldn’t stop most of the problems (and the most numerous) identified in the report.