Deadline to register for next month’s election is Monday

A woman drops off her completed mail-in ballot at a collection box near the City Hall elections office Monday, Oct. 19, 2020.
Metro file

Philadelphians who have not registered to vote have less than a week to sign up before the deadline to cast a ballot in next month’s general election.

Though it hasn’t received a ton of fanfare, at least compared to recent elections, votes cast Nov. 2 will be used to select the city’s district attorney and a host of judicial posts, as well as determine the fate of four ballot questions.

Monday is the registration deadline for the election, where mail-in votes are again expected to play a big role.

Ballots began going out to voters a couple weeks ago, and Deputy Commissioner Nick Custodio said elections workers are putting them in the mail within 48 hours of processing a request. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 26.

So far, the City Commissioners Office has received just under 95,000 mail-in applications, according to Custodio.

Ballot drop boxes, available 24/7 to submit mail-in votes, have been installed at City Hall, Riverview Place, Eastern State Penitentiary, Pelbano Recreation Center, Ford PAL Recreation Center, Smith Playground, Vogt Recreation Center, Independent Branch Library, Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, Pleasant Playground, Shissler Recreation Center, Chalfont Playground and Stenton Playground.

Residents can drop off only their ballot unless another person has filled out paperwork allowing someone else to deliver it because they cannot physically travel to the box.

In addition, registered voters can apply for a mail-in ballot, fill it out and submit it in one sitting by going to City Hall Room 140 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On the ballot, Philadelphians will find District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat seeking another four-year term. He is heavily favored against Republican attorney Charles Peruto Jr.

Maria McLaughlin, a Democrat and Superior Court judge, and Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, a Republican, are vying to fill a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In the running for two open Commonwealth Court judgeships are GOP candidates Stacy Marie Wallace and Drew Crompton and Democrats Lori A. Dumas and David Lee Spurgeon.

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart is running for reelection unopposed, and also unopposed are 17 candidates for the Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court. Two dozen judicial retentions are also on the ballot.

Voters will be asked to weigh in on whether the city’s official stance should be to urge state lawmakers in Harrisburg and Gov. Tom Wolf to legalize recreational marijuana.

Another ballot question would establish a fleet services department to manage all city-owned vehicles.

Philadelphians will also be asked whether the city should retain the “rule of two,” which stipulates that municipal departments can only consider hiring the top two scorers on a civil service exam.

Proponents say the change will allow the city to diversify its workforce. Philadelphia’s civil service rule is the most restrictive among the nation’s 30 largest cities, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts article.

The final question would mandate City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney to devote at least 0.5% of the municipal budget to the city’s Housing Trust Fund every year.

Money from the fund is used to pay for affordable housing, and, if the mandate was in place this year, the city would have had to distribute $25 million to the program.

For more information about registering to vote, go to www.pavoterservices.pa.gov. Eligible residents can also sign up in-person at City Hall’s Room 142.

People interested in applying for a mail-in ballot should visit www.philadelphiavotes.com or www.pavoterservices.pa.gov.

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