In a democracy, our vote is our voice. Ever since the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013 (Shelby County vs. Holder) we have seen multiple assaults throughout our country on that simplest, most fundamental right: the right to vote. These assaults are couched in the language of “protecting the system from in-person voting fraud”  While all major studies and analyses have determined that in-person voting fraud is rare to non-existent, these restrictions are preventing thousands of people from exercising their right to vote.

Advocating for Our Rights

There are myriad forms of voter suppression. In Pennsylvania, Republicans have tried desperately to hold on to power through gerrymandering and unconstitutional barriers to voting like Voter ID laws. We restrict the times and methods by which our citizens can vote. In Philadelphia, we have an entire office dedicated to increasing turnout, and yet one of the three officials elected to this post has not shown up to work in years. This is unacceptable. We need to go on the offensive. Voting, and registering to vote, should be easy and the opportunities to do so should be everywhere. On August 2015, Governor Wolf started us in this direction by allowing online registration. While this is a good start we need to do more, both locally and statewide.

I plan on working with progressive legislators and community groups to do the following in PA--As the person in responsible for elections in the largest Municipality in PA, pressure elected officials, community groups and others to enact the following

  1. Same-day registration

  2. Vote-by-mail

  3. Early voting

  4. Open primaries

  5. Ballot randomization

Increasing Access to Voting

Locally, I will do the following:

  1. Increase the means and locations by which a citizen can register to vote. While Motor Voter and online registration have helped, many citizens do not have a license or use the internet on a regular basis. We can expand the access Philadelphians have right now by implementing:

    1. Transit Voter: Giving people the option to register to vote when registering their SEPTA Key. Putting registration depositories in every SEPTA station.

    2. Library Voter: Allowing people to register to vote while registering for their library card, or at the library any time thereafter. Providing registration depositories at all Free Library branches.

    3. GED Voter: Allowing citizens registering to take their GED the opportunity to also register to vote.

    4. Landlord/Tenant Voter Registration: Compelling landlords to provide all new tenants with voter registration forms. This has been successful in cities throughout the country.

  1. Create and mail out voter guides to all Philadelphia voters explaining the candidates and policies they will be voting on, and the ramifications of those policies, in clear, easy-to-understand language. This guide will also tell citizens where their polling place is located, and will be available in languages other than English as well.

  2. Provide resources to keep polling stations open, accessible, and abundant to ALL Philadelphia neighborhoods. Work with community groups, elected officials, and ward leaders to better understand the specific needs of their constituencies and to remedy any hindrances they experience on their way to the polls. Ensure access to some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable voters: senior citizens an the disabled.

  3. Increase the availability of, and access to, translators and translated materials for citizens with low English proficiency.

  4. Reassess training models for poll workers and election Judges and Inspectors to ensure they are all up to date on all of Philadelphia’s voting regulations.

  5. Be a regular presence in the Philadelphia community to increase voter awareness, understanding, and participation.