Incomplete rolls a headache for Philadelphia voters and election judges
November 6, 2012By Holly Otterbein
Ky Ly had a frustrating Election Day.
Ly said his name wasn't on the books at his normal polling place, the Di Silvestro Recreation Center in South Philadelphia. So, he said, election officials sent him running around the city.
"They sent me to Broad and McKean," he said. "Broad and McKean sent me back to the recreation center. Recreation center sent me here."
Ly said he was finally able cast his vote at the South Philadelphia Library.
The Committee of Seventy, an election watchdog group, said it has heard from a lot of people like Ly. The group said many voters throughout Philadelphia have complained that their names are not in the poll books.
If voters discover that their names are missing from the books, City Commission chairwoman Stephanie Singer said, they are given a provisional ballot.
Miriam Ringrose, a judge of elections in Northeast Philadelphia, said several voters' names haven't been in the books at her polling place. So they've voted with provisional ballots.
"This year, we've had approximately 20 provisional ballots, which is an extraordinarily large amount for this division," she says. "Normally, we have like one or two at the very most."
Singer said her office has gotten "scattered" reports of voters not being on the books. "But nothing like the rumors that we've been hearing," she added.
Singer said about 25 voting divisions out of nearly 1,700 have asked for extra provisional ballots, as of Tuesday afternoon. She said that is more requests than the office got during the entire Election Day in 2008.
Earlier this year, the Committee of Seventy said it was worried that the City Commissioners office wasn't processing a backlog of voter registrations fast enough.
Singer said she isn't sure yet why more provisional ballots have been needed this year.
"We don't know whether the few problems that we are seeing, whether they are due to just large turnout or whether they're due to database issues," she said. "Today, the priority is not to do an extensive analysis of exactly why this happened. Today, the focus is on making sure that everyone who shows up at the polls gets to cast a ballot."