PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Voting is about to get easier in Philadelphia.
The chair of the City Commissioners is proposing 15 new satellite offices where voters could request mail-in ballots, fill them out, and return them in person. If the proposal passes next week, the offices could open by the end of the month.
With changes to the post office and statements from the president about mail-in voting, concern has continued to grow over the election process. In-person voting still carries too high of a risk for the spread of COVID-19.
City Commissioner Chair Lisa Deeley said the satellite offices may be the best solution.
“A voter will actually have contact with election personnel, and hopefully that will give them that level of confidence they need to trust the mail-in ballot and go and have their vote cast and their voice heard for November,” she said.
The offices would offer the same services available at the Board of Elections, including voter registration, mail-in ballot applications, and ballot drop-offs.
Most of the locations are in public schools; one is at Temple University's Liacouras Center. The goal is for them to be open seven days a week, beginning Sept. 29. Voters could cast mail-in ballots at the offices all the way through Election Day.
The offices will be paid for through a grant, and they were already given the legal OK by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a suit brought by state officials, including Democratic state Rep. Jordan Harris.
“This is about a person's access to the ballot box, which gives them the opportunity to decide their future,” he said, urging voters to take advantage of the opportunity.
City committee Chair Bob Brady said the ruling should benefit both parties.
“Those drop boxes don't say ‘only Democrats can vote there.’ We fought for everybody's right, and it's beyond me how Republicans would fight that. They don't want people to vote, they don't want their vote to count, they want to suppress their vote. We called them out on that.”
Deeley is managing an election where concerns about COVID-19 have depleted the ranks of poll workers and locations, so she is advocating strongly for the mail-in ballot satellite offices.
“Any opportunity we have to ease up congestion at in-person polling sites on Election Day, certainly we welcome that,” she added.
The proposed satellite locations are as follows by region:
City Hall Room 140
1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Riverview Place, first floor
520 N. Columbus Blvd.
George Washington High School
10175 Bustleton Ave.
Joseph H. Brown School
3600 Stanwood St.
Harding Middle School
2000 Wakeling St.
J. Hampton Moore School
6900 Summerdale Ave.
1776 N. Broad St.
A. B. Day School
6324 Crittenden St.
Roxborough High School
6498 Ridge Ave.
Mastbaum High School
3116 Frankford Ave.
High School for Creative And Performing Arts
901 S. Broad St.
Tilden Middle School
6601 Elmwood Ave.
Feltonville Intermediate School
238 E. Wyoming Ave.
Julia De Burgos Elementary
401 W. Lehigh Ave.
Julia Ward Howe School
5800 N. 13th St.
Alain Locke School
4550 Haverford Ave.
Overbrook Elementary School
2032 N. 62nd St.
The offices would be open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.