committee of seventy
Five reasons to vote if you live In Philadelphia:
1. You want honest and well-run elections. This starts by choosing the people who work at your polling place. Elections for Judge of Election and Election Inspector are on the May 21 ballot. You can read about what they do here.
2. You can send a signal to politicians that you will be paying close attention to what they say and do. Elected officials understand that the people who vote them into office can be expected to go to the polls to vote them out of office if they don’t live up to the voters’ expectations.
3. You help ensure the election of qualified judges. Voters are especially in the dark about people running for judge. Learn as much as you can by reviewing the non-partisan endorsements for statewide judges by the Pennsylvania Bar Association and for judges of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
4. You can fill the last open seats on the embattled Philadelphia Traffic Court. It’s too late for the primary but the PA General Assembly is moving ahead on a bill that would remove the three open seats on the ticket-scandal-plagued Traffic Court from the November 2013 ballot. For May 21, since the Bar Associations don’t endorse Traffic Court candidates (because they aren’t lawyers), it’s a real crapshoot who among the 27 candidates – 25 Democrats, two Republicans – will come out on top anyhow.
5. You can set a good example for what it means to be a responsible citizen for your kids and grandkids. It may be harder to get yourself to the polls when there isn’t a president, governor or mayor or City Council headlining the ballot. But studies show that kids whose parents vote are more likely to vote themselves.
Five Things to Know If You Vote In Pennsylvania:
1. You don’t need a photo ID to vote. However, first-time voters or voters voting for the first time in a new division must show either a photo or non-photo ID to use the voting machines. If you don’t have one, you can only vote by provisional (paper) ballot. See a list of acceptable forms of identification here.
2. You should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) if you have any questions about voting or experience problems at the polls. Trained non-partisan volunteers at the Committee of Seventy will be taking your calls and can provide the help you need.
3. You can only vote if you are a registered Republican or Democrat and only then for candidates in your own party. Pennsylvania has a “closed” primary system, which means that primary elections are only open to members of the Democratic or Republican parties to nominate candidates for the general election. Independent or minority party voters can only vote on ballot questions in primary elections. There are no questions on the May 21 ballot in Philadelphia.
4. You are too late to vote by absentee ballot but are eligible to vote by emergency absentee ballot if you learned after May 14 that you’ll be out of town on May 21 or if you’ve become physically ill or disabled since the deadline. Pennsylvania provides a safety net for voters who have last minute emergencies that will prevent them from voting on May 21. The application for an emergency absentee ballot and more details on the process are available at www.votespa.com.
5. You should find out before going to the polls if you are registered to vote. The place where you vote can change from one election to the next. Before you vote on May 21, check to make sure you are going to the right location by going to www.votespa.com. Or you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683.)