Officials In Philadelphia Reverse Vote To Change How Votes Are Counted

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Matthew Holloway Contributor
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Philadelphia voting officials reinstated a security measure that could drastically slow down vote counts at an emergency meeting held as the polls opened. The security measure had been removed on Nov. 2.

The city board of elections for Philadelphia cast the 2-1 vote at a meeting of the city commissioners around 7 a.m. in response to a court ruling in a lawsuit from a conservative group challenging the board’s decision to remove the policy of poll book reconciliation, according to NBC News.

The process is used to prevent possible duplicate votes from being counted and was considered to be time consuming. Poll book reconciliation will require vote scanning to pause so poll books can be scanned into the voting system, thereby ensuring that voters who voted in person did not already vote by mail.

“I want to make it very clear that when there are conversations that occur later this evening about whether or not Philadelphia has counted all of their ballots, that the reasons some ballots will not be counted is because Republican attorneys targeted Philadelphia, and only Philadelphia, in trying to force us to do a procedure that no other county does,” said Seth Bluestein, the only GOP commissioner, prior to voting to reinstate the process.

Bluestein told reporters Tuesday afternoon that there are “potentially 20-30,000 mail ballots that will be processed on a rolling basis after they are reconciled against the poll books,” according to NBC News.

Philadelphia is at present the only county in Pennsylvania that is utilizing this process during the vote count.

Common Pleas Court Judge Anne Marie Coyle reportedly excoriated the commission for their last-minute change to the electoral vote count process despite ruling in favor of them, citing the feasibility of restoring the procedure.

Judge Coyle referred to an affidavit of the deputy commissioner, who said the poll book reconciliation process “requires at the very least, advance hiring, training and deployment of at least seventy full-time workers who are willing to work continually overnight following the upcoming election.”

But she argued also that the change could encourage voter fraud and said the board “failed to consider the harm to public perception of our electoral process that could reasonably result from Defendants’ late date public announcement of removal of their previously publicly touted and utilized Policy,” according to NBC.

Bluestein told reporters that the commission felt pressured by Judge Coyle’s ruling to reinstate the procedure in spite of the difficulties it would create.

“While we technically won the court case in the common pleas court, the opinion that was written was written in a way that we had no other choice but to go forward and reinstate reconciliation,” he said.