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November 21, 2017

Bernie could've (seriously) won (a judge of elections position if he lived in Philly)

The general election write-in results prove that every vote does, in fact, matter

Elections Write-In Votes
Bernie Sanders Free Library Source/Democracy Now

Bernie Sanders was interviewed by Democracy Now at the The Free Library of Philadelphia on Nov. 28, 2016. One year later, residency issues prevented him from winning an elections judge position thanks to a write-in vote in Center City.

Every vote counts.

You hear that phrase all the time and, even if you parrot it, you kinda question it sometimes, don’t you?

Well, guess the heck what: Every write-in vote mattered during the November 7 elections in Philadelphia.

No, none of the big races were decided by a single vote. Down ballot, though, a Tuesday review of the write-in votes at the Board of Elections office over on Spring Garden Street saw new life breathed into that old adage.

Let’s start with the judge of elections vote in the ninth division of the Fifth Ward, aka Locust to Pine between 13th and Broad streets.

There was nobody on the ballot in that race, but four people received a single write-in vote each. Three of them – Robyne Watkins, Craig Weintraub and Stuart B. Lev – are registered voters in the division.

The fourth – one Bernie Sanders – is not.

So yes, if he lived in Center City, the former presidential candidate and current U.S. senator from Vermont could’ve won the position. (There's no tiebreaker in such situations, so it will be decided by a letter from the ward’s majority inspector.)

The same goes for former Vice President Joe Biden, who received a single election-judge write-in vote in University City but was nixed from contention because of residency concerns.

That’s exactly what happened to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who did the same for an election inspector position in Fairmount. (He also received eight votes for Common Pleas judge and two for Municipal Court judge.)

As if that weren’t enough, former President Barack Obama finished in a 1-1 write-in tie for election inspector in University City. Since neither candidate actually lives in University City, there will be no minority party inspector in the 27th Ward, 11th Division.

The one-vote mantra also traveled down to Greys Ferry, where nobody was on the election-inspector ballot in the 36th Ward, 8th District. This one remains up in the air.

The leading write-in vote getter also won a judge position, so it’s expected that he’ll pass on the inspector role. There are questions regarding the residency eligibility of the runner-up who received two votes.

That potentially leaves one-vote recipient Molly Eichel in line for the inspector position. If Eichel’s name rings a bell, it’s because she’s the arts and lifestyle editor over at Philadelphia Media Network.

“As a PMN employee, I did not actively campaign for the position, although I appreciate the public support,” said Eichel, who has received write-in votes in the past. “This shows why voting in general elections is so important.”

Eichel also noted that she will not take the position should the chips fall her way.


Some 4,855 write-in votes were tallied after the election, a figure that represents about half of those cast in the primaries.

Still, there were some interesting and entertaining names mentioned (like the registered Communist who will serve as majority election inspector in a sliver of Torresdale.)

Let’s start with the district attorney’s race that Larry Krasner won handily over Beth Grossman. Several also-rans from the Democratic party – and the DA who filled in on an interim basis for disgraced predecessor Seth Williams – received write-in votes. They are as follows:

Joe Khan: 16

Rich Negrin: 5

Kelly Hodge: 3

Tariq El-Shabazz: 1

Here’s the best of the rest (with the area of the city where the vote was cast):

Biblical figures David and King Solomon: Common Pleas Court judge (West Philadelphia)

Black Mothers in Philly”: Municipal Court judge and Superior Court judge (Olney)

Black Women In Philly”: Court of Common Pleas judge (Olney)

BLM will take Republican right to vote away”: Judge of elections (Tacony)

Hillary Clinton: Judge of Elections (Center City)

Dredd: Judge of Elections (Tacony)

Donald Duck: Municipal Court judge (Roxborough) 21-42

InfowarsAlex Jones: Election inspector, Commonwealth Court judge and Superior Court judge (Bustleton)

Karl Marx: Common Pleas Court judge (Center City)

Pokemon character Mudkip: City Controller, District Attorney, Election Inspector, Commonwealth Court judge, Common Pleas Court Judge, Municipal Court judge, Superior Court judge and Supreme Court justice (West Philadelphia)

"Idiocracy" character “Not Sure”: Inspector of Elections (West Oak Lane)

William “Penn will come off City Hall”: City Controller (Tacony)

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: Common Pleas Court judge (Harrowgate)

Homer J. Simpson: District Attorney (Roxborough)

Edward Snowden: Inspector of Elections (Center City)

Someone Honest”: City Controller (Spruce Hill)

Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Yoda: Election inspector and Municipal Court judge, respectively (Rhawnhurst)

T. Milton Street Sr.: Municipal Court judge (Kensington)

Steve Urkel: Judge of Elections (Mt. Airy)