||Art & Literature
||Letters to the Editor
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Mar. 22, 2006
Living in the Philadelphia area for a decade has taught me a thing or
two about what “Philly Style” actually means. For example, in a “Philly
style cheesesteak” the cheese is not cheese, but “Cheese Whiz,” the
steak is not steak, but shredded beef, and if “Philly” appears anywhere
in the name, it is not a “Philly cheesesteak.” A submarine or hero
sandwich is either a hoagie or a grinder, unless it has pickles, then it
is from “Subway.” Scrapple, pork rolls, and pepper pot soup all taste
great as long as you do not know what goes them. Pretzels are not
pretzels unless they come all stuck together in a big slab from a street
vendor smothered in yellow mustard. A lunch cake is a “Tastycake,” even
if it happens to be a “Twinkie.” And, I am still trying to figure out
what the difference between a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun is.
As you can see, living in Philadelphia is not as simple as you might
think. But, the general rule of thumb is if something says “Philly
Style,” then it is probably something a little bit different than what
you think it is.
Unfortunately, this rule does not apply just to Philadelphia cuisine,
but its general elections as well.
What you might call “a decades old vote and corruption manufacturing
machine bent on nothing other than enriching a privileged few and
Democratic Party at the expense of the average person through an
unchecked system of graft, fraud, and intimidation,” Pennsylvania
Governor, Ed Rendell, calls a fair election, “Philly Style.”
Some of the ingredients in a Philly Style Election are: Cheese: to hand
out to people after they vote for the Democrats. Bread: to vent vehicles
for thugs to chase Republican volunteers through the streets. And,
Bologna: that it is what you call polling sites in local bars, private
homes plastered with pro-Democratic candidate campaign literature, and
the district offices of local Democrats running for reelection. Mix all
these together and you end up with a big case of heartburn and “The
American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund” naming Philadelphia
as the number one election fraud hotspot in the United States.
However, Pennsylvania Governor, and former Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed
Rendell, does not think this is a problem. “I don’t think it is anything
immoral or grievous” was his response to a scandal where a local
politician paid volunteers to collect and taint absentee ballots. And,
“Disagreeing with the Teamsters can be bad for your health,” was the
only word Rendell had to say after union goons savagely assaulted two
people who were protesting a visit from President Clinton.
So, it is little wonder Rendell vetoed a bill from the Pennsylvania
legislature requiring statewide election reform.
Who knows the real reason why Rendell would do this? Maybe it was an
effort to protect the illegal incomes of his long time political
friends, maybe it was an attempt to keep Pennsylvania blue for the
national Democratic Party, or maybe it was the fact that he is running
dead even in the polls in his own reelection bid against probable
Republican nominee, and former Pittsburgh Steeler great, Lynn Swan, that
led him to this decision. No matter what the reason, Ed Rendell has made
a bold step to ensure the right of the dead to vote in Philadelphia
would not be infringed.
The dead voting? Sure it sounds funny, but in Philadelphia this has been
happening for decades. As has residents and non-residents alike creating
fictitious addresses which include vacant lots and fire hydrants so they
can vote multiple times. But you know how it is in Philly; the political
machine loves democracy so much they cannot vote just once.
But then I started to think. This is America not some Third World banana
republic. In this day and age irregularities can be expected in any
general election but this does not mean the ballot boxes are getting
stuffed. Maybe we are over reacting and Governor Rendell is right.
So, I decided to put Philadelphia’s voters and Governor Rendell to the test.
The total number of registered voters in Philadelphia is 1,066,222,
however the Census estimate of the total voting age population in
Philadelphia is, 1,107,696. This means that just 40,000, or 4%, of the
voting population is unregistered in the entire city. So you can
reasonably assume that in a random sampling of Philadelphians at least
80% would be registered voters. With voter registration cards in hand, I
rushed to Philadelphia to find out.
First, let me stress that despite the fact that I had a note pad and
calculator in my coat pocket, this was not a scientific survey. People
who ignored me, pushed me gruffly aside, threw things at me, or accused
me of having an inappropriate relationship with my mother were not
counted. Neither was anyone who took one of my voter registration cards
and threw it immediately away.
So, here are the results. Chance of chances, I must have miraculously
stumbled upon the one section of Philadelphia where most of the 40,000
unregistered voters ate lunch, because, over the course of 2 hour 35
minutes, I handed out over 90 voter registration cards. I jumped right
on the phone to let the Mayor’s Office know, but they hanged up on me.
The exact counts were: 92 cards accepted (91 plus one guy who used his
as a coaster for his coffee cup but did not throw it away.) 87 “Thank
you, but I’m already registered.” 35 “not interested, I would rather
play the role of slobbering drone in life.” And, 6 “walked away after
asking ‘what do I get for filling this out,’ and I told them ‘To vote!’”
For the sake of argument, I included all the “I’m registered,” “what do
I gets,” and “not interested” into the “Registered Voters” category, and
still found a full 41% of the Philadelphia residents I met were
unregistered. No matter how unscientific my poll was, this is a
statistical impossibility, and a chilling example of just how low to
Democratic Party has stooped to subvert the electoral process in
This is what the Pennsylvania election reform was intended to stop by
requiring voters present valid identification before they vote.
Actually, they gave “valid identification” a pretty broad definition. It
could be a driver’s license, a non-driver’s license (which would be
issued to anyone for free), a utility bill, a bank statement, the stub
of a paycheck or government check, a passport, an I.D. card issued from
a school, job, or government agency, a voter registration card, or gun
permit. Pretty much anything up to, and possibly including, a note from
your mother would constitute valid identification in Pennsylvania elections.
But, Rendell still said “no” to this much needed reform because he knows
if the system of voter fraud in Philadelphia was stopped, and its
disproportionate numbers of votes for the Democratic Party counted
accurately, the Democrats would never win another statewide election in
The possibility of Pennsylvania going from blue to red in a national
election gives the liberals a case of indigestion like no Philly
cheesesteak ever could. And, just like rooting for Dallas at and Eagles
game, it is something Philadelphia will not allow without a fight.
Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with
his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in
publications across North America and in Europe.
Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud
member of the MoveOff Network.