The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

Midterms may not attract as much attention as when the U.S. Presidency is up for grabs, but Philadelphia isn’t taking any chances.

On Friday, the District Attorney’s Office announced the rollout of a huge effort by to combat fraud on Election Day. Come Tuesday, Nov. 6, there’ll be as many experts stationed around the city as there were in 2016, along with several other strategies designed to keep cheaters from tipping the ballot.

The DAO first set up an Election Fraud Task Force years ago — back when Ed Rendell had the job. But the effort was limited, with around 10 or 15 people deployed to handle on-site issues. Things ramped up two years ago, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, which included discussion of voter fraud and intimidation, as well as general accusations of meddling surrounding the election.

That was the first time the DA’s office called in 60-plus staffers to watch over polling places, a number it’s upping this time around.

After all, an instance of regional election fraud was discovered just eight months ago in North Philadelphia’s 197th Pa. House district. In a March special election, four poll workers were found to be intimidating voters, casting bogus ballots and falsely certifying results at the Esperanza Health Center polling place.

85 staffers and a phone hotline

The city’s 2018 plan includes:

  • 60 assistant district attorneys and 20 detectives stationed throughout the city, specifically looking out for election fraud
  • Immediate voter assistance via an election fraud hotline (215-686-9641)
  • In-person assistance from DA staffers by request
  • Following the election, a review of all calls and reports to check for potential fraud perpetration

“It’s an evolving sort of process,” DA spokesperson Cameron Kline told Billy Penn. “I think deployment, communications and logistics are always things we learn from in each election cycle. There are always changes and improvements we make.”

Kline expects the office to receive hundreds of calls on Tuesday reporting sketchy goings-on at polling places, and confirmed that at least 85 people will be working on the issue.

What to do if you see something sketchy 

First things first: If you suspect major, nationwide instances of election fraud, don’t call the DA’s office. They can’t really help with that.

“Widespread voter fraud and elections being hacked, that’s not something we deal with here,” Kline said.

Rather, they handle things like electioneering, intimidation and illegal voting help. So if you see a candidate campaigning in your polling place, or if a poll worker is wearing a campaign button — you can call the DA’s hotline to report it.

Per Kline, the 215-686-9641 number will be staffed throughout Election Day 2018.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...