Philadelphia election officials usually solidify and release the list of the city’s polling places about three weeks before Election Day. In this unusual year, people who don’t plan to vote by mail or via drop-box will have some extra time to plan their route by Nov. 3.
The City Commissioners, the board that oversees Philly voting and elections, have said they intend to try to staff 800 polling places on Election Day, nearly four times as many as were open for the June 2020 primary.
A preliminary list released Wednesday identifies an early batch, assigning locations for 412 of the city’s political divisions, about a quarter of the city’s total. Divisions are smaller voting districts that sit within the city’s larger 66 political wards.
“Our goal is for as many divisions as possible to return to a familiar polling place, using as many of the regular polling places as possible,” Commissioner Al Schmidt posted.
More locations will be announced in the coming weeks, Schmidt said, clarifying that they’re all subject to change until 20 days before the actual election.
Going forward, the polling place unit supervisor will bring a new batch of locations before the
Board of Elections for approval, which will then be made public on a rolling basis. So if you don’t see your ward or division here, check back weekly for updates.
The initial group of locations looks similar to what was used for the primary, with 87% unchanged from the June 2020 election.
In the primary, however, Philadelphia saw nearly 80% fewer polling places due to the strains placed on the city’s election machine by the coronavirus, and officials have been working to expand the number available by November.
One issue is the massive shortage of poll workers, who tend to skew older (although there are efforts to get young folks to sign up). Then there’s the fact that congregate care settings like nursing homes, once common voting spots in Philly, had to be taken off the rolls to avoid possible COVID contamination.
The City Commissioners recently received a $10 million grant, which will partially cover increased hazard pay for poll workers. The usual rate of $100 a day will rise to $250 a day for the general election.