June 19, 2013 – The Election Day Fact-Finding Team submitted its report to Mayor Michael A. Nutter, detailing what happened leading up to and on Election Day, November 6, 2012. Mayor Nutter tasked the Team with determining the causes of the increased use of provisional ballots, long lines at polling places, names missing from voter rolls, calls to the voter hotline ringing unanswered and confusion about the Voter ID law across the city on Election Day.
“I am pleased to receive the Election Day Fact-Finding Report and look forward to reviewing the factors that led to such clear challenges on Election Day November 2012,” said Mayor Nutter. “Voting should be easy, but too many Philadelphia voters faced obstacles during last November’s Election. Voters in Philadelphia deserve to have an elections system that inspires confidence. I am committed to examine the recommendations proposed in the report and to work with the City Commissioners on actions necessary to make voting an easy process for all registered Philadelphia voters. I want to thank the Fact-Finding Team for taking on the task to produce this report and commend them for their work.”
The report points to numerous issues that impacted the November Election:
1. A significant backlog of voter registration applications meant election processing continued past the state’s regulatory deadline and concluded four days before Election Day;
2. The official list of voters at polling places omitted the names of thousands of properly registered voters, contributing to the unusually high number of provisional ballots;
3. Poorly communicated polling place changes created confusion for voters and meant nearly 7,000 voters showed up the wrong polling place;
4. Unanswered phones at the election hotline hindered Election Day poll workers trying to get help with inoperable voting machines and proper provisional ballot procedure; and,
5. Poll worker training sessions may have been well attended, but delivered inconsistent and ineffective preparation to the several thousand frontline election workers.
There are 17 recommendations that the Team proposes to help Philadelphia elections run more smoothly in the future. The Team also suggests six areas where the Nutter Administration can support the City Commissioners to ensure properly administered elections.
In December 2012, Mayor Nutter appointed the six-member team: Managing Director Richard Negrin; Rev. Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist Church; Terry Gillen, the City’s Director of Federal Affairs; Hope Caldwell, Chief Deputy Integrity Officer; Jordan Schwartz, Deputy Chief of Staff; and Nicole Harrington, Office of the Inspector General.
The Team interviewed dozens of election experts and discussed Election Day experiences with many disenfranchised voters.
Supplemental Material – Fact-Finding document