Fair Elections, Philly Style.
By: Justin Darr
Living in the Philadelphia area for a decade has taught me a thing or two about what â€œPhilly Styleâ€ actually means. For example, in a â€œPhilly style cheesesteakâ€ the cheese is not cheese, but â€œCheese Whiz,â€ the steak is not steak, but shredded beef, and if â€œPhillyâ€ appears anywhere in the name, it is not a â€œPhilly cheesesteak.â€ A submarine or hero sandwich is either a hoagie or a grinder, unless it has pickles, then it is from â€œSubway.â€ Scrapple, pork rolls, and pepper pot soup all taste great as long as you do not know what goes them. Pretzels are not pretzels unless they come all stuck together in a big slab from a street vendor smothered in yellow mustard. A lunch cake is a â€œTastycake,â€ even if it happens to be a â€œTwinkie.â€ And, I am still trying to figure out what the difference between a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun is.
As you can see, living in Philadelphia is not as simple as you might think. But, the general rule of thumb is if something says â€œPhilly Style,â€ then it is probably something a little bit different than what you think it is.
Unfortunately, this rule does not apply just to Philadelphia cuisine, but its general elections as well.
What you might call â€œa decades old vote and corruption manufacturing machine bent on nothing other than enriching a privileged few and Democratic Party at the expense of the average person through an unchecked system of graft, fraud, and intimidation,â€ Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, calls a fair election, â€œPhilly Style.â€
Some of the ingredients in a Philly Style Election are: Cheese: to hand out to people after they vote for the Democrats. Bread: to vent vehicles for thugs to chase Republican volunteers through the streets. And, Bologna: that it is what you call polling sites in local bars, private homes plastered with pro-Democratic candidate campaign literature, and the district offices of local Democrats running for reelection. Mix all these together and you end up with a big case of heartburn and â€œThe American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fundâ€ naming Philadelphia as the number one election fraud hotspot in the United States.
However, Pennsylvania Governor, and former Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, does not think this is a problem. â€œI donâ€™t think it is anything immoral or grievousâ€ was his response to a scandal where a local politician paid volunteers to collect and taint absentee ballots. And, â€œDisagreeing with the Teamsters can be bad for your health,â€ was the only word Rendell had to say after union goons savagely assaulted two people who were protesting a visit from President Clinton.
So, it is little wonder Rendell vetoed a bill from the Pennsylvania legislature requiring statewide election reform.
Who knows the real reason why Rendell would do this? Maybe it was an effort to protect the illegal incomes of his long time political friends, maybe it was an attempt to keep Pennsylvania blue for the national Democratic Party, or maybe it was the fact that he is running dead even in the polls in his own reelection bid against probable Republican nominee, and former Pittsburgh Steeler great, Lynn Swan, that led him to this decision. No matter what the reason, Ed Rendell has made a bold step to ensure the right of the dead to vote in Philadelphia would not be infringed.
The dead voting? Sure it sounds funny, but in Philadelphia this has been happening for decades. As has residents and non-residents alike creating fictitious addresses which include vacant lots and fire hydrants so they can vote multiple times. But you know how it is in Philly; the political machine loves democracy so much they cannot vote just once.
But then I started to think. This is America not some Third World banana republic. In this day and age irregularities can be expected in any general election but this does not mean the ballot boxes are getting stuffed. Maybe we are over reacting and Governor Rendell is right.
So, I decided to put Philadelphiaâ€™s voters and Governor Rendell to the test.
The total number of registered voters in Philadelphia is 1,066,222, however the Census estimate of the total voting age population in Philadelphia is, 1,107,696. This means that just 40,000, or 4%, of the voting population is unregistered in the entire city. So you can reasonably assume that in a random sampling of Philadelphians at least 80% would be registered voters. With voter registration cards in hand, I rushed to Philadelphia to find out.
First, let me stress that despite the fact that I had a note pad and calculator in my coat pocket, this was not a scientific survey. People who ignored me, pushed me gruffly aside, threw things at me, or accused me of having an inappropriate relationship with my mother were not counted. Neither was anyone who took one of my voter registration cards and threw it immediately away.
So, here are the results. Chance of chances, I must have miraculously stumbled upon the one section of Philadelphia where most of the 40,000 unregistered voters ate lunch, because, over the course of 2 hour 35 minutes, I handed out over 90 voter registration cards. I jumped right on the phone to let the Mayorâ€™s Office know, but they hanged up on me.
The exact counts were: 92 cards accepted (91 plus one guy who used his as a coaster for his coffee cup but did not throw it away.) 87 â€œThank you, but Iâ€™m already registered.â€ 35 â€œnot interested, I would rather play the role of slobbering drone in life.â€ And, 6 â€œwalked away after asking â€˜what do I get for filling this out,â€™ and I told them â€˜To vote!â€™â€
For the sake of argument, I included all the â€œIâ€™m registered,â€ â€œwhat do I gets,â€ and â€œnot interestedâ€ into the â€œRegistered Votersâ€ category, and still found a full 41% of the Philadelphia residents I met were unregistered. No matter how unscientific my poll was, this is a statistical impossibility, and a chilling example of just how low to Democratic Party has stooped to subvert the electoral process in Philadelphia.
This is what the Pennsylvania election reform was intended to stop by requiring voters present valid identification before they vote. Actually, they gave â€œvalid identificationâ€ a pretty broad definition. It could be a driverâ€™s license, a non-driverâ€™s license (which would be issued to anyone for free), a utility bill, a bank statement, the stub of a paycheck or government check, a passport, an I.D. card issued from a school, job, or government agency, a voter registration card, or gun permit. Pretty much anything up to, and possibly including, a note from your mother would constitute valid identification in Pennsylvania elections.
But, Rendell still said â€œnoâ€ to this much needed reform because he knows if the system of voter fraud in Philadelphia was stopped, and its disproportionate numbers of votes for the Democratic Party counted accurately, the Democrats would never win another statewide election in Pennsylvania.
The possibility of Pennsylvania going from blue to red in a national election gives the liberals a case of indigestion like no Philly cheesesteak ever could. And, just like rooting for Dallas at and Eagles game, it is something Philadelphia will not allow without a fight.
Â© March 2005, Justin Darr
Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in publications across North America and in Europe.
Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud member of the MoveOff Network.