Nov 6, 2020
Philadelphia Press Conference on Election Updates Transcript November 6
Philadelphia, PA city commissioners held a press conference on November 6 to provide updates on the vote counting. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Mayor Jim Kenney: (05:09)
Good afternoon everyone.
Mayor Jim Kenney: (05:11)
This week, the eyes of the nation and the world were here in Philadelphia. And I’m proud to say that Philadelphia showed up. Our residents turned out in large numbers. They mailed In ballots in this, an unprecedented condition, during a global pandemic. They stood in line with neighbors to cast their vote in person, and they have exhibited tremendous patience as they continue to wait for our election staff to count every single vote. I want to personally thank City Commissioners, Lisa Deeley, Al Schmitt, and Omar Sabir, who oversaw Tuesday’s election and continue to lead this impressive County operation. I thank their hardworking staff and hope they all can get some rest soon. I also want to thank the employees of many city departments, which helped stand up and staff this operation; the Office of Innovation and Technology, the Managing Director’s Office, Finance Department, our Police Department, Chief Administrative Office and others have helped support the City Commissioners in preparing for this election for over a year.
Mayor Jim Kenney: (06:10)
And there are hundreds of others, including many city employees who helped on Election Day and by staffing this ballot counting operation for all the world to see. You’re all too numerous to name, but please know that you have my thanks and the thanks to the people of this city. And most of all, I thank the people of Philadelphia.
Mayor Jim Kenney: (06:30)
Earlier this week, Commissioner Deeley and I sent out an open letter to voters, urging patience and calm on Election Day and the days that followed. You have shown it in spades. We asked that you stay calm and stay above the fray. You did exactly that. What we’ve seen on the streets outside this convention center, was not anger or contention, but music, dancing, and celebration. As we predicted, the voters and residents of Philadelphia ensured that our City shined as an example of how to run an election correctly.
Mayor Jim Kenney: (06:59)
So in the days ahead, please remember this is not about a victory for a single candidate or a single political party. This is truly a victory for our democracy. That may sound cliche, but today it is oh so true. The votes will continue to be counted until every valid mail-in ballot, absentee ballot and provisional ballot is counted. So while some, including the president, continue to spew baseless claims of fraud, claims for which his team has not produced one iota of evidence, what we have seen here in Philadelphia is democracy, pure and simple.
Mayor Jim Kenney: (07:32)
Our Founding Fathers, who conceived this system just a 15-minute walk down the street, I know would be proud. 233 years after the Constitutional Convention, we stand at this convention center and proclaim the system still works. The people have spoken. And God willing, we will have a peaceful transition to power in January. I’d like to take a moment now to introduce commissioner Lisa Deeley, who is the chair of the Philadelphia City Commissions.
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (08:00)
Thank you, Mr. Mayor. First of all, I want to thank all of you and the public for your continued patience. Our goal has been to produce accurate results as quickly as possible, and we’ve continued to work toward that end. We’ve counted a total of 690,360 votes. Of that, 337,609 ballots were cast by mail and 353,021 were cast at a polling place. This is by far the largest number of mail-in ballots in the City’s history. I’m very proud of the work our staff did. They’ve been working around the clock since Tuesday and before.
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (08:50)
Here’s what you can expect in the upcoming days. At some point this afternoon, we will report another update of mail-in ballot results. I expect it to be 2,000 to 3,000. After that, the remaining ballots generally fall into one of three categories; those that require a review, provisionals, U.S. military overseas ballots. I would estimate there’s approximately 40,000 remaining to be counted. We can also tell you that it may take several days to complete the reporting of that. And as you know, election results are not officially certified until 20 days after the election.
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (09:40)
Thank you again. Thank you to the citizens of Philadelphia. And now, I would like to invite Commissioner Omar Sabir to the podium.
Commissioner Omar Sabir: (09:55)
Good afternoon. I’d like to think the County Board of Elections’ staff. I would like to thank the taxpayer citizens of Philadelphia and across America. I think it’s safe to say that democracy has won. Democracy is beautiful. We saw the statue of Octavius Catto right on City Hall, where he died so that Americans can have access to the democratic process. And as we stand here today in 2020, people still have access to democracy. That’s a beautiful thing, but we still want everyone to exert patience, ignore a lot of the noise that’s going on, allow us to complete the counting process.
Commissioner Omar Sabir: (10:44)
And again, I’d like to think everyone. I would also like to think my beautiful wife at home with my six children while I’m down here doing all of the counting. And I’d like to say, “Hi wife, I love you and thank you.” All right now, I’d like to bring on our Council President Darrell Clarke, who’s a friend, who’s a mentor and a true leader of Philadelphia.
Darrell Clarke: (11:09)
Thank you, commissioner. Good afternoon everyone. To say this was a tumultuous year would be the understatement of the year. We in the City of Philadelphia and across the nation, have gone through some very, very challenging times. But in spite of that all, democracy works. Democracy works. I want to thank the commissioners who were given a short time frame to transition from the traditional, in-person voting, that Philadelphians are known for, to having a mail-in ballot system, to have multiple options.
Darrell Clarke: (11:41)
Guys, I just want to say you did a great job. You did a great job. But in all due respect to you guys, I want to thank the people that work. Every time you went by Broad Street, or you went by City Hall, or you went by Delaware and Spring Garden, the lights were on, because we had literally hundreds of hardworking individuals in there, making sure that this process works. So I just want to thank everybody. I want to particularly thank the citizens of our City who understood the need to participate at record numbers, to a degree. I want to thank the country for understanding the need to have a reasonable process that allows the citizens to speak. So to everyone involved in, and particularly these individuals here, the mayor, the commissioners, thank you all. And thank you for giving us an opportunity to allow democracy to work. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (12:36)
Speaker 6: (12:37)
Mayor, from what you’ve seen, do you believe Joe Biden will be elected president of the United States from what you’ve seen of the voting?
Mayor Jim Kenney: (12:42)
Speaker 7: (12:44)
What are doing with the mail-in ballots that arrive Wednesday, Thursday, Friday? When are you going to count them?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (12:51)
They are segregated as per the instruction of the secretary.
Speaker 5: (12:58)
One at a time.
Speaker 8: (12:59)
Can you clarify the number of votes you said that have to be counted? You said 40,000. Do they include the ones from abroad?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (13:08)
Abroad? That’s the military ballots? No.
Speaker 8: (13:12)
So the total number left to be counted in the city is what?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (13:15)
It’s upwards of 40,000. The U.S. military overseas ballots aren’t due to us until the 10th.
Speaker 9: (13:23)
Commissioner, can you speak to the process and to the pace of the counting? I know that there has been a pause yesterday during some legal issues. Have there been other things that have slowed you down?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (13:39)
No, we are counting hundreds of thousands of ballots in an industrial process. And we are fortunate to have that machinery to allow us to count faster, but it still is a process. We get all these envelopes in, and it’s like an assembly line. First, you’ve got the envelopes, you have to sort them, and then you have to open them, and then you have to open them again to get the secrecy envelope out. Then somebody actually sits there at a desk and is pulling the contents. And then the ballots have to be back bended and prepared for the scanner.
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (14:19)
So even though we have all this machinery, it does help us, but we have to build up to that as we start the process. It’s the first time we did it. We’re really happy with the speed in which we were able to do it. And we’re really happy that the people of Philadelphia afforded us the opportunity to be able to do this for the first time in Philadelphia, as it’s the first time we’ve been able to vote by mail with no excuse.
Speaker 10: (14:52)
40,000 ballots that remain to be counted of the mail-in ballots. Those that were separated, are they part of the 40,000 that remain?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (14:59)
Speaker 11: (14:59)
When will you count those?
Speaker 10: (15:00)
How many are those that are separated?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (15:03)
I don’t know. They’ve been segregated.
Speaker 8: (15:07)
[crosstalk 00:15:07] Can I ask you, the details about the monitors? We’ve heard the allegations from the president. Who is monitoring what’s happening in there? The Department of Justice-
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (15:16)
Everybody’s monitoring. We have a live stream. Anybody can watch. You’ve all been watching it.
Speaker 12: (15:20)
What’s your concern that the republicans [inaudible 00:15:28]?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (15:28)
There have been observers during [inaudible 00:15:32]. You could see them in the live stream. [crosstalk 00:15:38]
Speaker 13: (15:38)
Commissioner, what about the ballots that have issues-
Mayor Jim Kenney: (15:41)
I can’t answer two questions at the same time. It’s not possible.
Speaker 10: (15:44)
How about this one? How many segregated-
Mayor Jim Kenney: (15:44)
That’s three questions now at the same time.
Speaker 10: (15:49)
How many segregated ballots do you have?
Mayor Jim Kenney: (15:49)
Let me do to our foreign friends. Yes?
Speaker 8: (15:53)
[crosstalk 00:15:53] to address and respond to the president’s statement?
Mayor Jim Kenney: (15:55)
No, I think what the president needs to do is frankly put his big boy pants on. He needs to acknowledge the fact that he lost, and he needs to congratulate the winner, just as Jimmy Carter did, just as George H. W. Bush did, and frankly, just as Al Gore did. And stop this and let us move forward as a country, and that’s my feeling. I doubt he’ll listen to me, but that’s it.
Speaker 14: (16:17)
Mr. Mayor, Rudy Guilani was here-
Mayor Jim Kenney: (16:17)
I know, I know.
Speaker 14: (16:24)
He said that funny things happen in Philadelphia. He alleges the election is being stolen [crosstalk 00:16:29].
Mayor Jim Kenney: (16:29)
Well, he’s wrong. He’s wrong, and he’s baseless and he’s Rudy Giuliani, so he says whatever he wants.
Speaker 15: (16:34)
And the ballots that were sent that needed to be counted, there are ballots with issues. Could you describe a little bit about the process that it takes to check the legitimacy of [inaudible 00:16:47] ballots [inaudible 00:16:48] and what’s the timeframe for you guys to be able to finish counting them? I assume you guys have been doing it [crosstalk 00:16:54]
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (16:54)
We’re going to continue to count the ballots as quickly as we can without sacrificing accuracy, as we have from the beginning. That’s where we’re at. We’ll be done when we get done, because we still have ballots that we are scanning today. There’ll be another update, as I said. And we’ll continue to do, as we have been doing, ensuring that the ballots that we have are counted as quickly and as accurately as possible.
Speaker 11: (17:25)
Can you clarify what time you think you’ll be updating us again?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (17:31)
We should have a little update this afternoon. It might be going up now or shortly.
Speaker 17: (17:38)
And when will you start counting the segregated ballots?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (17:42)
We are in the process right now of counting just like we were yesterday and the day before. It’s the same process. We are counting ballots, and we will continue to do that as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy.
Speaker 5: (18:02)
Two more questions, folks. Two more questions.
Speaker 10: (18:03)
Of all the ballots, how many segregated ballots do you have?
Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (18:12)
I don’t have that number. We are going to continue to count the ballots until they’re all done, as we have been doing for these past few days. We’re going to get it done as quickly as possible, and it will be accurate. And we will come out and if we have something to tell you, you’ll know. We have a [inaudible 00:18:38] citizen return board. You’ve been on our website. The numbers get updated. There is a live stream. Everybody can watch, it’s very transparent process. It’s a process that has been working for the past few days. It’s the same process. We’re just going to keep counting. We’re going to keep counting. We’re going to keep counting. Thank you.
Speaker 18: (19:00)
How’s the City preparing for protests this weekend?
Speaker 5: (19:03)
Folks, that’s it. Thank you very much.
Speaker 19: (19:07)
Lisa? Lisa, can I ask you about the large screen? Lisa? [crosstalk 00:19:34]