Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and former Councilmember Derek Green are among voters who submitted flawed mail ballots
Philadelphia elections officials posted lists this weekend of the roughly 3,500 voters whose mail ballots have fatal flaws that will prevent them from being counted.
The Philadelphia voters who submitted flawed mail ballots include the CEO of Comcast, a former City Council member now running for mayor, and a high-profile lawyer who last year ran for district attorney.
Philadelphia elections officials posted lists this weekend of the roughly 3,500 voters whose mail ballots have fatal flaws that will prevent them from being counted. And the list of voters shows anyone can make mistakes. That includes voters who are among the most well educated and highly paid in the city, along with some of the most politically engaged.
A line of nearly 100 people snaked out of the Philadelphia City Commissioner’s Office and through City Hall Monday afternoon, with some voters seeking a final opportunity to cast their ballot early — and others rushing to fix the flawed one they had already turned in.
Brian L. Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, submitted a “naked ballot” — one that is missing its inner secrecy envelope and thus has to be rejected.
”As soon as he was notified, Roberts went over to City Hall and voted,” a Comcast spokesperson said.
High-profile criminal defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. had similarly submitted a naked ballot, according to the lists posted by the Philadelphia city commissioners, the three-member board of elections.
Peruto, the Republican nominee last year who was unsuccessful in unseating District Attorney Larry Krasner, learned about the error when contacted by The Inquirer.
He initially thought he had submitted his ballot correctly when told. If he, a former candidate for office, made a mistake, Peruto said, how would an “average joe” voter know better and fix it?
After some thought, he said: “I’m just going to vote in person.”
Former City Councilmember Derek Green, now a candidate for mayor, is a Democratic committeeman in Northwest Philadelphia. He received a list of voters in his area who had submitted flawed ballots and was surprised to see his own name.
He had submitted an undated ballot. State law requires voters to sign and date the outer envelope when returning their ballots, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week said undated mail ballots must be set aside and not counted.
Someone from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also stopped by his house to let him know about the ballot issue.
”They’re going through the list, door to door,” he said of the DSCC.
Like Roberts, Green went to City Hall to correct the mistake. He called it “crazy” that a mail ballot can be disqualified for lacking a date even if the record shows it arrived at the Board of Elections before the day of the election.
“This is another way to try to disenfranchise people from voting,” he said.
Other voters also rushed to City Hall on Monday to correct their ballots.
Hope Samuels, 67, said she received a call Sunday night from a group warning her that she submitted a naked ballot, meaning she forgot to put it in the secure outer envelope. Then, this morning, she said she received a letter in her Cobbs Creek home mailbox from the group DSCC Voter Protection that said, “Your ballot has been canceled!”
Samuels, a Democrat, had to ask her son to leave work early to bring her to City Hall to fix it.
And when Claire Miller, 25, first got a call Monday afternoon, alerting her of a ballot error, she thought it was a scam. Then, she got a text from the Hospitality Union a short time later, and noticed the earlier voicemail included the phila.gov website.
“Apparently it’s not a scam,” Miller, of Fairmount, said with a laugh. She voted Democrat down the ballot, she said.
Lexi Chavin, 25, said she received 15 phone calls from various groups between Saturday and Monday afternoon, alerting her that her ballot was mailed with an incorrect date.
“I was annoyed because I knew the line would be long,” said Chavin, a Democrat from Old City. But she was grateful for the alert, she said, and left work early to make it to City Hall.
Late in the day, the line was cut off and some voters were turned away.
The line to enter the elections office in City Hall was cut off so the last voters to enter would do so at about 5 p.m., said Seth Bluestein, one of the three commissioners who run elections.
A similar policy had cut off the line in 2020, turning away voters.
”I feel awful for any voters who were turned away after the line into City Hall had to be cut off,” Bluestein tweeted Monday. “The staff (including the sheriff’s officers) are doing the best they can to help as many voters as possible with very little time and resources.”
Voters who were turned away Monday, and others who still need replacement ballots, can still do so Tuesday. The elections office in Room 140 of City Hall will be open again Tuesday, and voters can also still go to their polling places and use provisional ballots.