By Pat Loeb and Alexandria Hoff
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeated a claim he has made before: that the election could be “stolen” by cheating in Philadelphia. City election officials say that’s just not so.
There are layers of protection to secure the vote in Philadelphia, according to commissioner Al Schmidt, beginning with an election board at each of the city’s 1,700 divisions.
“Which are designed to be bi-partisan,” Schmidt said. “They’re all people who live in that neighborhood, who likely know their neighbors.”
He adds that, despite recent warnings, voting machines are basically hack-proof.
“It’s a standalone device that calculates the number of votes cast on that machine,” Schmidt explained, “and there are safeguards in those machines, so we take the results from a cartridge in back of the machine and they’re also saved on a hard drive in the machine, and we can also print out the results.”
He says there have been instances of cheating involving one or a few votes. He expects 600,000 to 700,000 votes to be cast next month.
Schmidt — a Republican — didn’t want to comment on Trump’s statement about cheating, but says the commissioners work to protect the integrity of the system.
“Built into that, you have safeguards,” he said, “you have boards of election where minority party representation is guaranteed.
David Thornburg, of the election watchdog Committee of Seventy, goes further, saying Trump’s statements are irresponsible and harmful.
“There’s never been any evidence of the kind of wholesale fraud he’s suggesting,” Thornburg said, “so I wish he would stop saying what he’s saying.”
There are some voters who feel that Philadelphia’s current elected leaders represent a flaw in the system.
“Look at the people who run the city,” said Len Hill, who voted for President Obama in the last election and now seeks to help Donald Trump take over that office.
At the Philadelphia County voter registration office off of Columbus Boulevard, a steady flow of ringing phones and paperwork indicate a rush for voters registering before the Pennsylvania deadline hits at midnight.
“We do our job,” said Gregory Irving, administrator for the Philadelphia County voting administration, “I’ve been here for 29 years and every application comes in here has to be processed in accordance to the law and that’s what we do.”