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June 05, 2019

Election Day shocker: Gritty didn't lead the write-in vote pack for May's primaries

The orange mascot drew some support but an activist who taunted Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell got a whole lot more

Election 2019 Write-In Votes
022419_Gritty-streaking_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

We're going streaking!

May’s primary elections in Philadelphia saw a surprising changing of the guard in the 3rd Councilmanic District (bye, Jannie Blackwell; hello, Jamie Gauthier) and Sheriff’s Office (adios, Jewell Williams; hola, Rochelle Bilal).

It also saw 1,951 votes written in by machine, absentee and provisional voters across the city.

We finally reviewed said votes on Wednesday morning to continue an ongoing quest to find the most interesting ones. (Special shout-out to the voter in East Falls who thinks I deserved a vote for Municipal Court Judge. Respect.)

Before we get to the heavy hitters, let’s take a moment to highlight some of those entries, shall we? We’ll list them below by vote recipient, office and polling location.

FURNACE PARTY-RELATED VOTES

• “All the food you’ve eaten since the first grade,” which is taken verbatim from ABBA’s epic Furnace Party letter, Fifth District Council and Mayor – D (Fishtown)

DEAD PEOPLE

• Hunter S. Thompson, Sheriff – R (East Germantown)

• Frank Rizzo, Mayor – R (Lawndale)

• John McCain, Mayor – D (Mayfair)

SPORTS

• Furkan Korkmaz, Register of Wills – D (Manayunk)

• Joel Embiid, First District Council and Superior Court Judge – D (South Philadelphia and Mayfair)

• Boban Marjanovic, Eighth District Council – D (Germantown)

• Phillie Phanatic, Court of Common Pleas – D (Cedar Park)

• Mike Schmidt, City Commissioner – R (Lawndale)

• Bryce Harper, Superior Court Judge – D (Bustleton)

STATEMENT VOTES

• Time for him to go, Fifth District Council - D (Center City)

• Anyone But Clarke, Fifth District Council – D (Fairmount)

• Anyone Else, Fifth District Council – D (North Philadelphia)

• Several votes across the city for Eliminate the Sheriff’s Office

• 3.0 Get Out, Third District Council – D (Squirrel Hill)

• Safe Injection Sites, First District Council – D (Two votes in Kensington)

WELL-KNOWN NAMES

• Mumia Abu Jamal, Third District Council - D (Kingsessing)

• Hillary Clinton; City Commissioner, Common Pleas Judge, Municipal Court Judge, Superior Court Judge, Mayor, and Register of Wills – all R (East Kensington)

FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

• Det. John Munch, Council at-large – D (Manayunk)


WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS ONE MEANS

• Carrot Cake Man, Third District Council – D (Cedar Park)

YEAH, YEAH, GRITTY GOT VOTES, TOO

Now that we have those votes out of the way, let’s get to the two write-in standouts. 

You’ve probably realized by now that Gritty has yet to be mentioned. Well, that’s because Gritty deserves an entire section unto itself.

Gritty’s Mom – who know such a creature existed? – got one vote for City Commissioner (Dem) in Fishtown, while Sheriff Gritty got a vote for, duh, sheriff (Dem) in Bustleton.

Gritty also received support for a wide array of offices:

6 Votes:

Fifth District Council (D) in Fairmount (3), Fishtown (2) and Point Breeze (1).

5 Votes:

Mayor (D) in Queen Village (2) and South Philadelphia, Fishtown and University City (one each).

4 Votes:

Third District Council (D) in Kingsessing (2), Southwest Philadelphia (1) and Cedar Park (1).

3 Votes:

Superior Court Judge (D) around the corner from Pat’s and Geno’s (1), University City (1) and Fairmount (1).

2 Votes:

Register of Wills (D) in Graduate Hospital area (1) and Cedar Park (1).

1 Vote:

Mayor (Rep.) in Hawthorne

First District Council (D) in Passyunk Square

Seventh District Council (D) in Kensington

Eighth District Council (D) in Mt. Airy

Sheriff (D) in Kensington

City Commissioner (D) in Fishtown

Common Pleas Judge (D) in Cedar Park

THE LEADING WRITE-IN VOTE GETTER WAS …

Gritty’s 27 votes paled in comparison to the write-in draw of Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, a 35-year-old activist who managed Sherrie Cohen’s campaign (until she dropped out in April.)

The co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative also made waves for interrupting outgoing City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s re-election campaign announcement, and at a Council meeting.

Muhammad drew an estimated 130 votes in the Council at-large race, 23 in the Third District Council primary and one for Superior Court Judge.

Speaking to PhillyVoice on Wednesday afternoon, he said he launched a bare-bones write-in mission via Facebook about a month before the election.

“I did nothing in the field, there was no announcement, just social media-based,” he said. “From my standpoint, it was just a way to disrupt the so-called machine in Philly. Folks could write my name in to vote against the status quo and highlight the issues with councilmanic prerogative.”

While he “struggles” with the Philly 3.0 PAC helping get Gauthier elected in the Third District – where he grew up – he said “the Blackwell political name and legacy needed to end.”

“For me, those numbers are pretty significant for someone who did nothing to campaign. People are so sick of politics as usual and chose to vote for someone who aligns with their values,” Muhammad said, noting that the powers-that-be treat write-in votes as “a joke” because they threaten their hold over the process.

“I do know that the number would be higher if people weren’t intimidated at polling places,” he continued. “My inbox was filled with people saying poll workers weren’t trained to support people who wanted to write-in candidates, told people they weren’t allowed to write in votes, coming into the booth because the process needed to be shown to them.”


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