POLS ON THE STREET: Election Board Jobs – Power Positions Under the Radar

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REPUBLICAN activists packed Firefighters’ Hall for City Commissioner Al Schmidt’s fundraiser. Firefighters’ Local 22 President Andrew Thomas, L, has consistently stood by Schmidt.

BY JOE SHAHEELI
The strength of a political party is made manifest by the number of judges of elections it gets elected every four years. The reason: the judge of elections is the single most-important decision-maker at each polling place on Election Day.

A judge of elections’ decision is without appeal, deciding who can’t vote, which absentee ballots are to be admitted and counted, and who is or is not out of order inside the polling place and can be kicked out, who fills a board vacancy, and who can assist the voter beside themselves. Need we say more?

Election judges, willingly or unwittingly, tilt the rules in favor of the party which they represent! They often show some leeway toward their party’s committee people when conflicts arise.

Now you have learned why an election board judge gives their party an edge on election day.

Yet it remains surprising that until now, the posts of judge of election and majority inspector have long gone unnoticed by the electorate who only become aware of those positions when they cast their votes.

For the initiated, two other voting-division posts are up for grabs, making three in all to be elected. Let me explain.

The winner in the race for judge of elections takes all. Not so with the winner in the election for the other board position to be filled by the electorate. That is the position for inspector of elections. The winner wins the title of “majority inspector.” The loser automatically becomes the “minority inspector,” who gets to name a “clerk,” one of the five positions on the Election Board charged with running their division. That was designed to insure the minority party in that polling place is entitled to two positions on the board.

The fifth position, that of machine inspector, is named by the ward leader whose party dominates the Board of Elections. Here it’s the Democrats.

This is the first year where a strong possibility exists that a large-scale effort by progressive elements of the Democratic Party may try to challenge ward leaders with candidates of their own for judge and inspector. Around town, community events have been staged to educate those in the electorate who may want to get involved in the political process.

Next year, 2018, comes the time for all parties to file for election the committee people in every division. There are two slots for every party; usually they are recruited for vacancies from existing election-board members. Ward leaders know those already serving on the election board have garnered experience in what the system is all about.

Democratic ward leaders may find themselves welcoming or fighting a slew of progressives for the election board now, and possibly next year as well, since progressives are Democrats by another name, but with minds of their own. Republican ward leaders will be spared that headache.

THIS IS the 197th Dist. scheduled for March 21 special election. Who’s in?

Political Parties on the Line in 197th Dist.

GOP nominee Lucinda Little has been on an emotional roller-coaster ride in her efforts to win the March 21 special election for the 197th Legislative Dist. to replace State Rep. Leslie Acosta. Her party’s attorneys succeeded in getting Freddie Ramírez booted out by the courts as the Democratic nominee since he failed to prove he had been living in the district long enough to qualify for the run. That meant a possible run against write-in candidates Cheri Honkala and Ramírez gave her an edge if she remained the only name on the ballot.

L-R, SENATORIAL aide Omar Sabir and Jamillah Moore congratulate State Sen. Anthony Williams on his birthday at a stylish party at the Sheraton City Line. Photo by Wendell Douglas

But Democratic ward leaders met and endorsed one of their own: 43rd Ward Leader Emilio Vázquez. His name should appear under the Democratic column, and with that Lucinda Hill would find herself in an uphill battle again.

But another boost for Little came when the Dept. of State ruled Vázquez’ name came in past the deadline. Democratic City Committee has appealed this ruling to Commonwealth Court, where election cases are normally handled. So Little again finds her future chances hinge on a court ruling.

White Cautions on Sanctuary-City Policy

Republican State Rep. Martina White (R-Northeast) has added an additional concern to City Council President Darrell Clarke’s headaches over what happens to federal finances now coming to the City, if Mayor Jim Kenney stands resolute on his efforts to keep Philadelphia a “sanctuary city.”

AT THE HEARING at Shusterman Hall at Temple University on a bill which would ban the sale of ivory in Penna. were, L-R, Joan Smith-Reese, executive director of the Animal Care Sanctuary, Temple’s George Kenney and State Rep. Martina White, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

She has introduced HB 28, which she says makes it clear a “local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any federal government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration & Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

“When the head of a municipality oversteps his or her legal authority he or she sets a dangerous precedent that circumvents our rule of law and undermines institutions like City Council, the state legislature and Congress. My bill will help bring accountability to our officials who disregard the law.”

She noted in 2011, the Government Accountability Office released a study on approximately 250,000 illegal aliens in federal, state and local prisons. Those prisoners had been arrested nearly 1.7 million times and committed 3 million offenses, averaging about seven arrests and 12 offenses each.

Unions to the Rescue of Jewish Graves

COUNCILWOMAN Cindy Bass hosted a fish and chicken fry at Lou & Choo’s in Tioga which was well attended by neighbors and judicial candidates, in addition to Bass, C front; State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, C rear; and her colleague Derek Green, 4th from R. Photo by Wendell Douglas

6th Dist. Councilman Bobby Henon announced this week the Philadelphia Building Trades Council will restore headstones damaged on graves at Mt. Carmel Cemetery and that John Dougherty’s IBEW Local 98 will pay for and install security cameras. He said anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated.

Out of respect to the families who were impacted by this atrocity, the Philadelphia Building Trades is offering to replace the toppled tombstones, re-sod damaged gravesites and clean the cemetery at no charge to anyone.

Such activities by this city’s unions are commonplace, yet often go unnoticed. Our thanks to Doc and the Building Trades. Also to be noted was quick response by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, whose members, led by President Osama Al-Qusem, turned out to make repairs on the site.

6 Work to Create a DA Identity

In the race for the Democratic district attorney nomination, six are vying for a tie-in to various voting blocs.

LEADING a workshop on promotion of diversity at the VFW post on Martins Mill Road, State Rep. Jared Solomon addressed his multiethnic constituents of Oxford Circle and Castor Gardens. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Setting up his platform, candidate Joe Khan has proposed the elimination of the city’s current cash bail system. He states, “Our outdated, amoral bail policy has led to drastically overcrowded jails, with many who are unable to afford bail losing their jobs, their families, and their livelihoods even before they have been convicted of a crime. These reforms will also help put an end to the predatory for-profit bail-bonding industry, and will be an important first step in removing the profit motive from our prison system. No one should ever sit in a jail cell because they can’t afford to make bail.”

After arrest, Khan proposes, every defendant will receive individualized consideration for pretrial release. Judges will detain defendants only when no set of release conditions can reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance or the safety of the community.

Larry Krasner is hyping his promise that as Philadelphia’s next DA, he will not pursue the death penalty, which he correctly notes “is a fiscally irresponsible, legally impractical, and morally indefensible punishment. The death penalty is an expensive and anachronistic relic, and we are better off without it.”

He also criticizes as illegal the district attorney’s violation of Brady, which requires that all relevant police material be turned over to the defense to ensure a fair and just trial. “I have seen this unjust culture of ‘winning is the only thing’ firsthand in my nearly 30 years of daily involvement in criminal courts, and it’s a culture I fully intend to change as district attorney,” he said.

Will Wolf Ease Pension Debt?

Gov. Tom Wolf expects his early-retirement proposal for state employees will reduce the current pension. It is an incentive plan which may provide savings to SERS, because those who are retiring currently receive a more-generous pension plan than employees hired to replace them whose post Act-120 pension benefit was reduced by 20%.

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