Daily News

editorial on Dec. 11, the editorial board, and those they may be listening to, display a total lack of knowledge of even the most basic state and local government facts. In proposing that Philadelphia consider a different system of running local elections, the board inaccurately claims that "Elections in every other county in the state are run by a nonpartisan board staffed by civil servants."

That short, simple, single sentence is not true on two points. There is not one single "nonpartisan board" running elections in any county. Elections in 65 of the commonwealth's 67 counties are run by an elected "bipartisan board" of county or city commissioners designed to elect members of both the majority and minority choices of the electorate to ensure representation.

All of the other 66 county elections offices are staffed, including election directors, by appointed personnel, most of whom serve at the pleasure of the appointing majority members. In Pennsylvania, only the elected city commissioners in Philadelphia have a civil service operational staff.

The city commissioner's annual budget is approximately $9 million, 4.5 percent of the $200 million row office total quoted, and 0.2 percent of the $4 billion total city budget. The payroll for polling place officials, who are substantially underpaid, and the $90 rental fee for polling places amounts to $1.9 million, or 21 percent of the city commissioner's annual budget, without considering the contract vendor costs for shipping voting machines and printing elections materials or our substantial postage costs for federally mandated election notices. In the universe of a $4 billion city budget, it would seem that suggesting changing from the elected city commissioned bipartisan board with civil servants to a "non-partisan" board in an effort to save money is more than a little misguided.

Margaret M. Tartaglione


City Commissioner's Office