The Committee of Seventy’s Election Program dates back to our founding and is a vital part of Philadelphia’s effort to have clean and well-run elections. The central goals of the modern program are to inform voters, engage communities in elections and improve the election systeem:
- Inform voters: Seventy has worked since its founding to educate voters so they can protect their franchise and cast informed votes. This continues to be a prominent goal of our biannual Election Program, with nonpartisan information provided through Seventy’s toll-free 1-855-SEVENTY hotline, online resources and quick-reference materials.
- Empower communities: A healthy political system is dependent on an engaged electorate that balances day-to-day routines with steady attention on elected officials. Seventy supports neighborhood groups in activating local residents, advising them of critical voting procedures and candidate information. Community leaders are also urged to broadcast a Voter Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to their neighbors.
- Improve elections: Seventy advocates for the modernization of elections by collecting data on election performance, as available from its toll-free hotline, high school Election Ambassadors and voter experience surveys. Data is used to inform the understanding of what happens on Election Day and is shared with election officials and other advocacy organizations.
Online Voter Information
For more than a century, Seventy has provided comprehensive and nonpartisan information for Philadelpha voters regarding candidates, offices up for election, ballot questions and voting procedures. Candidate bios, pictures and contact information are available online in the elections and voting section of our website. Seventy is also working with Crowdpac in 2016 to provide information on candidates a tool for voters to build and share their ballot before going to the polls.
Elections and Voting Hotline
Hotline volunteers work in Seventy's office on Election Day, answering calls to the 1-855-SEVENTY hotline from voters, poll workers and others. Volunteers are available to help locate polling places, check voter registration and offer basic assistance with Election Day procedures. Reports of election law infractions or other serious issues are directed to the County Board of Elections and the District Attorney’s Office.
Voters with questions about the voting process in can also contact the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, a nationwide voter assitance hotline. Voters needing assistance in Spanish can contact the National Association of Latino Elected Officials at 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA. And for Asian language support, call APIAVote and Asian American Advancing Justice at 1-888-API-VOTE.
For questions about Seventy's Election Day call center, or if you're interested in volunteering, please contact Patrick Christmas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Election Data and Performance
The City Commissioners Office has made significant progress in recent years providing more and easier accessible election data. Election results and historical voter registration numbers are available online; a report on registration and turnout is also release annually; the office was also one of the first to provide open data sets. What happens on Election Day, however, is still dominated by anecdote.
To shed light on Election Day issues and voters' experiences at the polls, Seventy gathers data through its 855-SEVENTY hotline and via online survey. Results are shared with election officials, other advocacy organizations, media and the general public to inform discussion about needed improvements in elections.
Our online survey administered first during the November 2015 municipal election received more than 650 responses from Philadelphia residents. Most voters reported a smooth experience, but some issues at polling places were reported. The final question revealed one in five respondents do not believe the "election process in Philadelphia produces fair outcomes." Although only rough generalizations can be drawn due to the survey's nonrandom sample, this is a disturbing result.
Nonpartisan Polling Place Observation
Seventy offers training in voting procedures and Election Day rules for individuals interested in observing polling places and helping voters in their neighborhood. Trained volunteers will be capable of answering basic questions about the voting process and, if necessary, directing voters, canvassers or others to the proper authority for further assistance. All nonpartisan poll observation trainings are open to the public.
Please contact Patrick Christmas at email@example.com to schedule a group training.
NOTE: State law prohibits nonpartisan volunteers from entering polling places on Election Day. Individuals who wish to monitor the polls directly should seek a Poll Watching Certificate, issued for general elections by the County Board of Elections at the request of candidates or political parties. Certificates for primary elections may only be requested by candidates.
Committee of Seventy staff and volunteers do not have the authority to investigate and prosecute election law violations. Suspected voter fraud, illegal electioneering or other serious election-related infractions should be reported immeadiately to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.