By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Michael Nutter is forming a task force to look into why thousands of provisional “paper” ballots were cast in the city during the November Presidential election — and he says animosity among the three commissioners who ran the election should not impede the probe.
Mayor Nutter calls it “fact finding,” rather than an investigation, but a six member group will look into a wide range of issues in Philadelphia voting on November 6th. He says the doubling in the number of provisional ballots used may point to less obvious problems.
“That particular issue may be indicative of other issues,” Nutter says, “because before you even got to a provisional ballot, there may have been issues about what names were or were not in the book for someone to sign in the first place. People were trying — they were trying — to vote. For that effort, we certainly commend all the citizens of the city. It’s now time for us to figure out why they were in that situation in the first place.”
After the election, City Commissioner Stephanie Singer was ousted as chairperson by the other two commissioners, Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark. Nutter says the in-fighting among the three should not impede his “fact finding.”
“I’ve talked with all three commissioners individually,” he says. “Each has individually pledged their cooperation. I’m not Dr. Phil, I’m the mayor of the city. They are adults, they’ll figure out how to do what they need to do amongst themselves. What I’m focused on is this particular issue. And in that regard, each has individually pledged their full cooperation, and that’s good enough for me.”
The commissioners’ internal report on the voting found that more than 27,350 provisional or paper ballots were cast in the election — more than twice the number submitted in the 2008 presidential election.
Nutter says there’s no firm deadline for the fact finding group to issue its report, though he hopes it would come before next May’s primary.
The six members of the fact-finding team are the following:
- Rich Negrin, Deputy Mayor for Administration & Coordination and Managing Director,
- Jordan Schwartz, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor,
- Terry Gillen, Director of Federal Relations,
- Hope Caldwell, Chief Deputy Integrity Officer,
- Nicole Harrington, Investigator, Office of the Inspector General,
- And Kevin Johnson, Pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church.