General Election


November 7, 2011, Philadelphia: District Attorney Seth Williams, along with the Committee of Seventy, announced today that they will be watching Tuesday’s election closely.   Members of the District Attorney’s Office will monitor action at the polls and enforce fair practices to ensure that a fair election is held on Tuesday.

“We encourage all registered voters in the city to get out and exercise the privilege of casting their votes,” said District Attorney Seth Williams.  “That being said, we want to stress that we will go after any criminal activity and prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.”

 Voters’ complaints can be registered by calling the District Attorney’s Office at 215-686-9641, 9643, 9644 or 9884.  The Committee of Seventy will also be available to answer any election related questions at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).  Mobile units, each with an Assistant District Attorney and a District Attorney’s Detective, will be dispatched to problem polling places to investigate any person who attempts to violate a citizen’s right to vote.  Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Charges can include:  assault, vote fraud, harassment, terroristic threats and voter intimidation. 




Chairperson, Commissioner Margaret Tartaglione                               


Acting Commissioner, Honorable Leon W. Tucker                      

Acting Commissioner, Honorable Charles J. Cunningham III                  

Commissioners Office—Room 132                                    


COMMITTEE OF SEVENTY                                                


(Report Problems at Polling Place/                                               

Election-Related Questions)



VOTER REGISTRATION/ELIGIBILITY                            


VOTING MACHINE MALFUNCTION                                 


ELECTION BOARD                                                              


(Absentee Ballots and Poll Workers)                                


MISSING ELECTION MATERIALS                                    

 215-686-1530, 215- 686- 1531,  215-686-1532

WATCHER CERTIFICATES                                                 


PHILADELPHIA CITY SERVICES INFO                            


(CITY HALL OPERATOR)                                                     



FOREIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS                            



DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S COMPLAINT                             


INTAKE UNIT                                                                      






DEMOCRATIC CITY COMMITTEE                                    


REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE                                     


CENTRAL ELECTION COURT                                            







         The following regulations apply to all polling places:



  1. No partisan political activity may take place within 10 feet from the entrance      to the polling room.  No electioneering is permitted within the polling place.
  1. Police and peace officers (e.g., Sheriff’s deputies) must remain 100 feet distance from the polls unless they are in the process of voting or have been summoned by the Judge of Elections to restore order within the polls.
  1. Campaign buttons may not be worn by Election Board members or Watchers while they are inside the polling room.
  1. Printed or written campaign leaflets, sample party ballots or other partisan materials may not be distributed inside the polls, or left or stored there during the course of the election.
  1. Suggestions of any kind as to which party or candidate to vote for are not permitted inside the polling room.
  1. Voters may wear buttons or T-shirts in support of any candidate.  Voters are permitted to bring sample ballots or any written material into the polling place.



  1. What can watchers do inside the polling place?

Candidates are entitled to two watchers for each polling place where their names are on the ballot.  All watchers must have been selected before Election Day. 

When the polls are being set up in the morning and when the count is computed at the end of the night, all watchers are allowed inside the polling place.  During the time for voting, however, only one of each candidate’s watchers is permitted inside the polling place.

When the election officials are preparing the polling place, all watchers must be permitted to examine the vote-tallying counters and the public counter on the machines to see that they are set at 000; the watcher must be permitted to stand somewhere in the room that permits them to exercise this right.

When the room is open for voting, watchers inside the room must stand “outside the enclosed space,” which the Election Code describes as the “inner portion” of the room.  The voting machines are supposed to be inside that enclosed space, and poll watchers may not enter that portion of the polling place where voting is actually taking place.

During the day, watchers usually try to keep track of who comes to vote.  They are permitted to keep a list of voters and may challenge any would-be voter.  In carrying out these duties, what if the watcher doesn’t recognize a voter and wants to find out who he or she is?  Although the Election Code is silent as to the procedure to be followed, generally, the election official will allow the watcher to look at the sign-in form which the voter signed and to compare the name with the voter’s name in the binder.  May one of the election officials announce the name of the voter? Yes.

When the polls are closed and the count is being computed, all watchers are allowed inside the polling place, but they are not permitted to touch the machine.

  1. I mailed in my absentee ballot, or I received one but didn’t use it.  May I vote in person now that I have discovered I can make it to the polls?

Yes.  In fact, the law says that you must.  When you go to vote in person, the Judge of Elections should set aside your unopened absentee ballot and it will not be counted.  However, polling place officials may not know this rule; therefore, if they give you an argument, have them call the Committee of Seventy.  Absentee ballots which were not received by the County Board of Elections by Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5 p.m. will not be counted.   

  1. May I have assistance voting?

Yes.  If the registration affidavit has the appropriate boxes marked,      indicating need for assistance, the voter is entitled to assistance.  (The caller should have checked those boxes when he or she registered, or should have had the information added after registering.)  If the affidavit is not marked, the voter completes a Declaration of the need for Assistance form at your polling place.  The voter may be given assistance by any person of the voter’s choice, except by the voter’s employer or agent of that employer, by an officer or agent of the voter’s union, or the Judge of Elections (unless the Judge of Elections is the only person who speaks the same language as the voter and the voter chooses the Judge for assistance).

  1. My name wasn’t in the poll book, so the Judge of Elections wouldn’t let me vote.  Was that right?  Is there anything I can do to vote?

That was right:  the Judge of Elections may not let someone vote whose name isn’t in the poll book, even if the Judge knows the individual has been voting there for decades.  However, there is a remedy, you can also request a provisional ballot and vote on that at the polling place.  A vote cast by provisional ballot will only be counted if it turns out that the voter was indeed registered in PhiladelphiaCounty. (After the Election, you can check online to see if your provisional ballot was counted.)

Make sure you re-register shortly after the election.

  1. How much time may I take to vote once I’ve closed the curtain to the voting machine?

The Election Code sets a maximum of 3 minutes, but if others are not waiting to vote, the election officers may allow you a longer time.  (Voters may familiarize themselves with the ballot by examining the pink sample ballot posted at the polling place before they enter the voting machine.)

  1. If I’m in line at the polling place by 8:00PM, but haven’t yet reached the voting machine, may I vote?

Yes.  If you are in the line by 8:00PM, you may vote, whether you are in line outside or inside the polling place.  (This assumes you are qualified to vote and that your name is in the poll book.)  If the line is very long, it may take several hours before all those in line by 8:00PM have voted.  This is entirely legal; however, no one who enters the line after 8:00PM is permitted to vote.

Information for Newly-Registered First Time Voters



Voters arriving before 8:00PM will be permitted to vote, but voters are urged to arrive early in order to avoid crowds and longer lines.

Judges of elections will require newly-registered first-time voters to provide identification.  The following items are acceptable forms of identification:

Valid Photo Identification

  • Pennsylvaniadriver’s license or Pennsylvania I.D. card
  • Identification issued by federal or state agency
  • Student identification with photo
  • United States Military I.D.
  • United Statespassport
  • Employee I.D.

      Valid Non-Photo Identification (including voter’s name and address)

  • Voter Registration Card issued bycountyBoardof Elections
  • Non-photo ID issued byPennsylvania
  • Non-photo ID issued by U.S. Government
  • Gun permit with name and address
  • Government check with name and address
  • Current utility bill with name and address
  • Current bank statement with name and address
  • Paycheck with name and address

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