Ignore the Noise: Trust the Process

Election Workers processing mail-in ballots at the ballot counting facility in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)
Election Workers processing mail-in ballots at the ballot counting facility in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)

PHILADELPHIA – Hurray! We did our civic duty and got out to vote today. Well, those of us that are procrastinators, anyway, the rest of you hopefully voted early or mailed your ballot in at some point in the last few weeks.

I know the right-wing media and right-wing candidates are bleating about how all the ballots should be counted by tomorrow, and if they’re not, then that means something hinky is going on. The reality is that they will not be entirely counted by tomorrow. That was never going to happen. It has never happened that quickly, especially in a city with as many people as ours.

This nonsense is a primarily manufactured narrative by the Right from two different fronts. The first is the above. The second stems from a change recently made by the City’s Commissioners’ office, which discontinued the redundant and time-consuming practice of poll book reconciliation. Poll book reconciliation was used to ensure that people who mailed in their ballots didn’t also vote in person, something that is sometimes called double voting.

Election Workers processing mail-in ballots at the ballot counting facility in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)

Over the last several election cycles, Election workers have found few, if any, double voting. City Commissioners believed such redundancy was a waste of time, while other methods would likely catch future incidents of double voting. However, A Republican group called Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) filed a lawsuit; even though the City won the case because the case was filed too close to the election, Common Pleas Judge Anne Marie Coyle chided the City, in her opinion on Monday but gave them the go ahead, nevertheless.

RITE was founded recently by GOP operative Karl Rove, former Trump U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, and others. The group claims city commissioners “are refusing to keep double votes out of the ballot box” and that this puts the integrity of Philadelphia’s vote at risk.

“The aim is to make people think double voting is rampant; it’s not, but if they fail there, they will continue pushing the narrative that any delay in tallying the vote is a sign that some other illegal thing is happening to fit their narrative of a stolen election,” said Marian Schneider, an ACLU attorney, and voting rights advocate. “It’s a repeat of 2020 but with real lawyers.”

Election Workers clear a jammed ballot counting machine at the ballot processing center in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)

Judge Coyle said that the GOP “sufficiently established the merits” of its claim but that forcing the City to change its plans would “cause a greater measure of harm to the electoral process.” She wrote that “fraudulent voting” could reasonably result from the change. The commissioners “unwisely discounted the inherent deterrence of fraudulent voting value [and] fraud detection value” that poll book reconciliation provided.

The GOP filed an appeal, and in one city attorney called an act of appeasement, the City Commissioner’s office reinstated the practice of poll book reconciliation early Tuesday morning as election day voting began.

Partisan Election Observers discuss issues Republicans were concerned over during ballot processing in a contention mid-term election in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)

Philadelphia’s Bipartisan City Commissioners said they see this suit as a pattern of litigation designed to sow mistrust in the elections. Some election observers saw this as a catch twenty-two for the City. They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t, and it was better to err on the side of caution.

Election workers are diligently doing their jobs. The election observers are doing theirs, which leaves the lawyers and the courts. The facility where the counting is happening is highly secure, with multiple layers of security and a heavy DHS and police presence.

Partisan Election Observers hang out as Election Workers process ballots at the ballot processing center in Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022. (Cory Clark)

It’s our job to trust the process. If those who want to disrupt the election or ballot counting process have a claim, they should have to bring the evidence to court. Short of that, we can call it out for the bullshit it is. This is Philly, and come hell or high water, we will make sure every ballot is counted, even if it means getting in the streets as we did in 2020.

PA: Department of State: Election Result Updates

Philadelphia Election Updates

AP Election Updates

About Cory Clark 47 Articles
Cory Clark is a Photojournalist and writer focused on Human Rights and other social issues. His work can be found in hundreds of media outlets from Philly Magazine to Fortune. He has been a long time freelancer for Getty Images, The Associated Press, and Association French Presse. Cory, his wife, and son are residents of East Germantown.

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