HONKALA ENDS ELECTION DAY WITH VISION TO CLEAN UP ELECTIONS
Long-time activist hopeful of historic write-in win; calls on district attorney candidates to monitor Friday’s vote count
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—The votes are in, but not yet tallied in the March 21 special election to fill a vacant seat for the 197th state house district. Based on an unofficial report on the Election Board’s website, a clear winner had not emerged after a day mired by reports of voter intimidation and irregularities.
Despite a long list of candidates, the front runners appeared to be Republican Lucinda Little—the only candidate who appeared on the ballot—and a slew of write-in candidates including Green Party member Cheri Honkala and Democrat Emilio Vazquez.
Little garnered 7 percent of the vote, while more than 2,400 votes were cast as write-ins. By law, a hand count of write-in votes will not take place until Friday, March 24.
Unfortunately, numerous incidents of election fraud and voter intimidation were reported throughout the day by voters, poll workers and others. Because of that, Honkala will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. tomorrow in front of the district attorney’s office at 3 South Penn Square, calling on all candidates for district attorney (seven Democrats and one Republican) to stand with her to uphold election integrity and monitor the vote count on Friday.
Prior to Election Day, it was unclear to the Honkala campaign whether the District Attorney, who runs the elections, or the City Commissioners would ultimately keep watch over the ballots until Friday.
A list of incidents provided in a previously released statement include:
A complete list will be released Wednesday.
“We ran a great campaign and had amazing support from all over the community,” said Honkala, reflecting on her short but intense nine-week campaign. “Tonight’s results show that when the people want something, they will figure out how to make it happen. A write-in win is possible.”
Cheri Honkala ran a serious write-in campaign for state representative in the 197th district that raised over $100,000 in individual contributions, involved the purchase and distribution of 750 stamps, conducted a video training in English and Spanish that was circulated on the Internet, and built this webpage (http://www.cheri197.com/writein) to educate voters.
The long-time poor people’s advocate announced her entry into the race on January 31, and had been tirelessly seeking the people’s vote, gaining a key endorsement from the national progressive group started by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Our Revolution.
Honkala also garnered endorsements and support from local union leaders, community leaders, and local pastors, as well as actress Rosario Dawson, filmmaker Josh Fox, musician Tom Morello, and journalist Naomi Klein. She was interviewed on numerous online news programs including “The Jimmy Dore Show” and “Redacted Tonight.”
Honkala was denied a ballot position due to a technical error and was forced to mount a write-in campaign. The Democratic Party, which lost this seat due to corruption, also mounted a write-in campaign with Emilio Vazquez, a little known employee of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The Democrats’ first choice, Freddie Ramirez, was kicked off the ballot after a court concluded he did not live in the district.
“We look forward to a full and impartial vote counting on Friday,” said Kristin Combs, chair of the Green Party of Pennsylvania. “We trust the police to monitor the ballots on which these write-ins were cast.”
See also: “As the 197th Turns: Decision Day Draws Near For Special Election Chock Full of Residency Hearings, Felonies, Write-In Candidates, Threats, Vandalism and PA Supreme Court Rulings,” March 15, 2017.