What Do We Know So Far About Philly Early Voters?

A little over two weeks into Philadelphia's early voting period, 155,838 people have voted, and about 40% of the requested mail ballots have been returned already. Election officials can't start counting those early votes until Election Day morning, but because the voter file information is public, and so is information about who specifically has voted, it's possible to make some inferences about where things stand based on statistics.  The polling and targeting firm TargetSmart has a great new website breaking down the different variables for several different states, counties, and Congressional Districts based on publicly-available voter information from state voter files. The site is being updated regularly with new information about who has voted. Let's take a look at some of the big trends the data show about who's cast their ballots already.  Continue reading

The Political Allure of Making Things Work Again

(Rebecca Rhynhart | Image: Philly Mag) The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare a lot of unnerving weaknesses in our government institutions at all levels, especially local government, with core municipal responsibilities like how to keep the sanitation services running seeming to elude our elected officials for most of this past summer. Of course, a lot of what's gone on has to do with the specific circumstances caused by the pandemic. But as former Zero Waste cabinet lead Nic Esposito pointed out in an op-ed about the trash situation earlier this year, a lot of it also has to do with inherently fragile systems that were always ready to crumble at the first sign of strain. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney's First Veto Shows How He Can Take a Stand Against Out-of-Control Councilmanic Prerogative

Mayor Kenney issued the first veto of his time in office this week, and the subject of his disapproval was a rezoning bill introduced by 1st District Councilmember Mark Squilla for Society Hill that his Planning Commission appointees and staff had criticized as perpetuating exclusionary zoning. Continue reading

Mail Ballot "Pre-Canvassing" Bill Getting Another Look in Harrisburg

(County officials really want to start opening and verifying the mail ballots before Election Day | Photo: City Commissioners) Processing mail-in ballots before Election Day would speed up the vote count, and it’s something Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg generally agree local election officials should be allowed to do. But they haven’t been able to get it done because House Republicans have insisted on tying this to a rollback of expanded voting access features like dropboxes and satellite election offices. House Republicans passed a bill to that effect, but Governor Wolf has promised to veto it, and the votes aren’t there for an override. Continue reading

Mail Ballot "Pre-Canvassing" Looks Dead

(A small fraction of the ballots that currently can't be sorted or verified until Election Day morning | Photo: City Commissioners) One of the big issues that will determine the scope for political interference in the election is how quickly Philadelphia and the southeast suburban counties—expected to go big for Joe Biden—will be able to count their mail-in ballots. Continue reading

PA House GOP Forming Exciting New Select Committee to Steal the Election

(House Republican State Government Committee Chair, Garth Everett | Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) The Trump campaign and Pennsylvania Republicans haven't been shy about their openness to the idea of trying to win ugly in Pennsylvania through the state legislature's ability to appoint electors, possibly circumventing the popular vote in the state.Last week we flagged some quotes from PA Republican leaders in The Atlantic flirting with a strategy of challenging the validity of mail ballots, first in the court of public opinion, and then through the courts where Republicans hold power, and in the end appointing electors to hand Pennsylvania's electoral votes to President Trump. Continue reading

'Home Rule' Episode 4: How is the PA General Election *Actually* Going to Work?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled on the big questions of the election, and the endgame for November is finally becoming a little clearer. On the latest episode of Home Rule, we talked with Rep. Kevin Boyle, Democratic Chair of the House State Government Committee, and Suzanne Almeida, interim director of Common Cause PA, about what happened and what it means for your voting experience this November.Listen today on your streaming service of choice, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and Spotify, and share it with friends and neighbors to help get the word out about this important issue.  

You Can Vote Starting Next Tuesday at One of Philly's Satellite Election Offices

The Pennsylvania election updates are coming fast these days, and to help you cut through the noise, each week we’re spending some time summarizing all the high-level takeaways that everybody needs to know about. Read on for this week’s news, and send us an email at [email protected] if there are questions you still have and want to see answered in an upcoming newsletter. Continue reading

The Price of a Judge (Excerpt from 'Philadelphia Battlefields')

(Hon. Darnell Jones II) We are pleased to share this excerpt from John Kromer's excellent new book "Philadelphia Battlefields: Disruptive Campaigns and Upset Elections in a Changing City" (Temple University Press, 2020) about upset local elections in Philadelphia's history. Kromer is a professor at Penn's Fels Institute, the former director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and a one-time Sheriff candidate. His book covers the history of insurgent campaigns from the 1950's through the present-day, including Controller Rebecca Rhynhart's 2017 primary, and Jamie Gauthier's 3rd District Council win. Continue reading

Dropboxes Live! PA Supreme Court Protects Voting Access Expansion in Act 77

(Dropboxes live! Photo: City Commissioners) Pennsylvania has a good chance of being the tipping point state in the November election, according to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, which gives President Donald Trump an 84 percent chance of winning reelection if he carries the state, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden a 96 percent chance of winning the presidency if he takes Pennsylvania. Continue reading