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December 08, 2016

Voter experience survey finds long lines, questionable ID tactics but nothing really illegal

The Committee of Seventy's voter experience survey launched during the presidential election didn't find any of the voter fraud that was rumored to happen in Philadelphia. 

The organization, a political watchdog group, published the results of the survey earlier this week and found that the biggest complaint were long lines and a handful of inappropriate requests for voter identification.

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Twenty percent of those surveyed said that they waited in line for 30 minutes or longer while seven percent waited for more than an hour.

“Any long lines and confusion at the polls discourage some people from casting their votes," said Committee of Seventy President and CEO David Thornburgh in a news release. "No voter who takes time off from work, school, or family should be asked to tolerate broken machines and poorly-trained, disorganized election workers. In 2016, the voting experience should not be modeled on Soviet-era shopping from the 1950’s. We need to expect more.”

Of the 331 voters who participated in the survey and said they were asked for identification, 40 percent reported they had been asked for identification inappropriately when it wasn't their first time voting, or their first time at that particular polling location.

Among the 42 respondents who submitted an absentee ballot, 17 percent said the process wasn't easy.

And for the rigging? Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said that they thought the election was fair while four percent said that there were signs of "illegal electioneering,"  or campaigning outside polling stations.

While campaigning prior to the Nov. 8 election, President-elect Donald Trump claimed that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would "rig" the election. He said that if he didn't win Pennsylvania, it would be because of voter fraud in Philly.

About 1,700 people participated in the Committee of Seventy's survey, the third of its kind distributed from the organization.

City Commissioner Al Schmidt refuted some of the results, calling the questionnaire an "online complaints survey."

Schmidt said that the data isn't scientific and that only a small fraction of precincts reported long lines, though he was glad to know that the vast majority of respondents were satisfied with their voting experience.

"We value every voter and understand the time constraints of everyday life, that's why we have more polling places per capita than any major city in the United States," he told PhillyVoice in an email.