Philly Vote By Mail Letter

The 2020 elections may well be the most important in our lifetime. Our state legislature and Governor Wolf, acting in a bipartisan spirit, have enabled us to vote from the safety of our homes. The upcoming June primary election will be an appropriate time to test the state’s capacity to process mail-in ballots. This is the first election when all Pennsylvanians will have the option of voting by mail. We need to make sure the process runs smoothly in the fall when we may still need to be practicing social distancing.

Pennsylvania’s primary election has been moved to June 2 due to COVID-19. For your safety and protection, I urge you to vote by mail in this upcoming election. You can sign up online for an absentee or no excuse needed mail-in ballot. If you include your email address in the mail-in application, you will be able to check your Election Ballot Status.

Philadelphia voters who do not have internet access or do not have a PA driver’s license or state ID should call the Office of the City Commissioners. Leave your name, address, zip code, date of birth and telephone number when asking for a mail-in or absentee ballot application. The deadline to request a ballot is May 26, but it will take time for the city to process an unprecedented number of mail ballot application, so please request your ballot ASAP.

Voting by mail is a secure option that has been successful in other states. According to Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, “the system has proven to be highly secure, and engages more voters, while significantly lowering costs.”

For assistance, contact these City Commissioners:
Lisa Deeley, 215-686-3460, Lisa.Deeley@phila.gov
Omar Sabir, 215-686-3462, Omar.Sabir@phila.gov

Be safe.

Vote By Mail Three-Step Process

• Step 1: Get the Absentee or Mail-In Ballot
• Step 2: Complete the Absentee or Mail-In Ballot
• Step 3: Deliver the Absentee/Mail-In Ballot to the right place by the right time

Step 1, Option A: Get the Ballot Online
• Sign up for an Absentee/Mail-In Ballot online at VotesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot by answering questions:
• Are you a military or overseas civilian absentee voter?
• Are you applying for a ballot because you will be absent from your municipality for the upcoming election?
• Are you applying for a ballot for the upcoming election because you have an illness or physical disability?
• Based on the answers, Absentee or Mail-In Ballot will be mailed

Step 1, Option B: Get the Ballot Through the Mail
• Sign up for an Absentee or Mail-In Ballot
• Download a paper application for an Absentee Ballot or Mail-In Ballot from VotesPA.com
• Fill in and sign the paper sign-up form
• Mail the sign-up form to the appropriate County Board of Elections Office
• Requests for Absentee and Mail-In Ballots must be received by the County Board of Elections by 5:00pm the Tuesday before the Election (May 26 / October 27). Postmarks are not accepted. (See Step 3 for deadline to deliver completed ballot.)

Step 2: Complete the Ballot
• Mark the Absentee/Mail-In Ballot, following the instructions
• Place the completed Ballot in the secrecy envelope and then put the secrecy envelope into the outside envelope with the declaration printed on it
• Be sure to sign the form and use the secrecy envelope or Ballot may not count

Step 3: Deliver the Ballot
• Deadline is now 8:00pm on Election Day
• DELIVER THE COMPLETED BALLOT TO THE RIGHT LOCATION
• The County Board of Elections Office must receive the marked Absentee/Mail-In Ballot on Election Day by 8:00pm
• Do not deliver the Absentee/Mail-In Ballot to a polling location
• Postmarks are not accepted
• If you mail the Absentee/Mail-In Ballot, it must be RECEIVED by the County Board of Elections by 8:00pm on Election Day

Steps 1, 2, & 3 All At Once
• IN-PERSON EARLY Absentee/Mail-In Balloting
• Go to your County Board of Elections Office – find it here
• The County is required to provide an Absentee or Mail-In Ballot, over-the-counter, while you wait
• Mark the Absentee/Mail-In Ballot in private at the County Board of Elections Office following the County’s instructions carefully
• Hand the completed Ballot back to the County Board of Elections right then and there

Note: The above “Vote By Mail Three-Step Process” was written by the PA Dems Voter Protection Team and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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Democratic Presidential Candidate List – Update #5

Updated: March 19, 2020

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. The world has experienced a full blown pandemic, COVID-19, the U.S. stock market is in a tailspin and the list of Democratic Presidential candidates is down to two. Here is an updated list.

The active Democratic contenders are, in alphabetical order:
Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

A total of twenty-four candidates have dropped out, withdrawn or suspended their campaigns to date. They are, in chronological order:
Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii, March 19, 2020
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, March 5, 2020
Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, March 4, 2020
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota, March 2, 2020
Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, March 1, 2020
Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive, February 29, 2020
Decal Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts, February 12, 2020
Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado, February 11,2020
Andrew Yang, tech company executive, February 11, 2020
John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland, January 31, 2020
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey, January 13, 2020
Marianne Williamson, author, January 10, 2020
Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, January 2, 2020
Kamala Harris, Senator from California, December 3, 2019
Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana, December 2, 2019
Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania, December 1, 2019
Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida, November 20, 2019
Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas, November 1, 2019
Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; October 24, 2019
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; September 20, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York; August 28, 2019
Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; August 23, 2019
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; August 21, 2019
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; August 15, 2019
Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California; July 8, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is technically still a contender, although she last appeared in a presidential debate on November 20 and currently has two pledged delegates to July’s Democratic National Convention.

Be a voter, even if you have to get a mail-in or absentee ballot.

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Today Is EITC Awareness Day

Today is EITC Awareness Day, a day to promote a program of benefit to working families and individuals.

EITC is a tax program although it acts very much like a safety-net program. It puts over $1 billion in the hands (or checking account) of New Jersey residents each year. However, it needs publicity every year, too. About 25% of state residents do not taken advantage of the program at tax time, even though the average EITC tax credit is more than $2,000.

This year the Earned Income Tax Credit page of the New Jersey Community Resources website has had a major revamping. Easy to find links are listed below. Please do what you can to spread the word about EITC to working families, constituents, and co-workers.

Find a Location for Free Tax Help
NJ Free Tax Assistance Locations
Free Tax Site Locations in South Jersey and Philadelphia Area
EITCoutreach.org’s Get It Back Campaign
IRS’ EITC Assistant
MyFreeTaxes
Free File
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
IRS Publication 596
Notice 1015 – “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?”
IRS Notice 797 – “Possible Federal Tax Refund Due to the Earned Income Credit (EIC)”
IRS2Go
NJ EITC Page
NJ Statement to Employees
NJ EITC Informational Flyer

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Democratic Presidential Debates – Update #4

Updated: February 13, 2020

The next three Democratic debates are scheduled for February so as to coincide with upcoming Presidential primaries. These debates will be held February 7 in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada and February 25 in Charleston, South Carolina. As of January 29, according to a New York Times article, seven candidates, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang, have met the eligibility requirements set by the Democratic National Committee.

Upcoming Democratic Party primaries and caucuses are: Iowa caucuses – Monday, February 3; New Hampshire primary – Tuesday, February 11; Saturday, February 22 – Nevada caucuses; and Saturday, February 29 – South Carolina primary. Then comes “Super Tuesday” on March 3 with primaries in Texas, California and fourteen other states.

The active Democratic contenders are, in alphabetical order:
Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City
Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont
Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts

A total of nineteen candidates have dropped out, withdrawn or suspended their campaigns to date. They are, in chronological order:
Decal Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts, February 12, 2020
Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado, February 11,2020
Andrew Yang, tech company executive, February 11, 2020
John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland, January 31, 2020
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey, January 13, 2020
Marianne Williamson, author, January 10, 2020
Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, January 2, 2020
Kamala Harris, Senator from California, December 3, 2019
Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana, December 2, 2019
Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania, December 1, 2019
Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida, November 20, 2019
Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas, November 1, 2019
Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; October 24, 2019
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; September 20, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York; August 28, 2019
Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; August 23, 2019
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; August 21, 2019
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; August 15, 2019
Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California; July 8, 2019

The requirements to participate in the upcoming New Hampshire debate were released in mid-January by the Democratic National Committee.

The number of Democratic presidential candidates continues to shrink with the withdrawal of three in December, four in January and three in February. There were two dozen plus contenders in July, 2019. The current cast is down to eight.

Be a voter.

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2019 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Information

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for families and individuals who have income from employment. It increases the amount refunded to a taxpayer or reduces the amount of tax owed. For 2018, 576,000 filers in New Jersey were able to be credited $1.4billion with an average tax refund of $2,360. However, almost 25% of eligible New Jersey taxpayers never file for EITC. You must file a tax return to claim your EITC.

Twenty-nine states, including New Jersey, maintain their own EITC program. New Jersey taxpayers may receive a credit equal to 39% of their federal credit. It is based on their employment earnings, filing status, number of children and adjusted gross income (AGI).

Income Limits and Maximum EITC Credits

Number of Qualifying Children Single/Head of Household or Widow(er), Income Must be Less Than Married Filing Jointly, Income Must be Less Than Maximum Federal Credit Maximum NJ State Credit
No Child $15,570 $21,370 $529 $206
One Child $41,094 $46,884 $3,526 $1,375
Two Children $46,703 $52,493 $5,828 $2,273
Three or More Children $50,162 $55,952 $6,557 $2,557

The EITC Assistant is an online tool to estimate if an individual or family may qualify by answering a number of questions. The IRS also publishes a one page fact sheet, IRS Notice 797 and a more detailed booklet, IRS Publication 596.

Free assistance to prepare and file your federal income tax return is available from a number of organizations and programs. The United Way and H&R Block partner to offer MyFreeTaxes. All income levels are eligible to file both federal and state returns for free using MyFreeTaxes.com. Also available is Free File another free, easy to use online software program. Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $69,000 and below are eligible. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program offers free tax preparation to low and moderate-income taxpayers, especially age 50 and older.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. Most VITA and TCE sites are open February to April.

The IRS provides a Find a Location for Free Tax Help page. The NJ 2-1-1 Partnership maintains a NJ Free Tax Assistance Locations page. South Jersey residents in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland Counties, as well as residents in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, can get tax preparation help from the non-profit Campaign for Working Families.

Non-profits, advocacy groups and government agencies can participate in outreach efforts by promoting the NJEITC page and their NJEITC Informational Flyer. Groups interested in conducting an outreach campaign or promoting EITC on social media should subscribe to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign.

Employers are encouraged to distribute copies of “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?”, available as Notice 1015 by the IRS. The New Jersey Division of Taxation publishes a Statement to Employees.

Smartphone users can download IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app. You can use it to check your tax refund status or find free tax prepartion services, or even to send a payment to Uncle Sam.

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Websites For Philadelphia Committeepeople

This guide is a collection of website links and other documents useful to Democratic Committeepeople in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, especially new ones. It covers such areas as voter registration, election results, party organizations and rules, elected officials and community resources. It can be used as a bookmark collection and as a source of reference while canvassing.

A Voter Registration Application Form

PA Online Voter Registration or www.bit.ly/Register2VotePA, a shortcut.

Votes PA, Voting in PA/Register to Vote/About Elections/Your Rights/Resources

DMV.org’s Voter Registration in Pennsylvania, a non-governmental site when votespa.com is down.

Find Voter Registration Status

Voting by Absentee Ballot

Office of Property Assessment/Property Information Click on “Search for a Property”. On the next screen, use the pull-down menu on the left side of the box to select “Block”. Then enter the block number that you want to review. You can determine if the person is the homeowner or a tenant.

Philadelphia Property Search This database is meant as a neighborhood organizing tool, and was built for Philadelphia Committeepeople to get in touch with their new constituents. Searchable by ward, division, zip code.

Elected Officials in Philadelphia County

Precinct Committee Person Guide & Resources (Version 2017.2.0) Authorized by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners About/Voters/Candidates and Campaigns/Election Board Officials/Resources and Data/Contact

City Commissioner Al Schmidt’s 2019 Citizen’s Handbook Contact information for public officials and voter registration statistics and political district maps.

Guide for Election Board Officials in Philadelphia County , 49 pages, revised 9/2019.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Philadelphia Democratic City Committee http://www.citycommittee.org, their website, has been unreachable since October, 2019.

Philly Ward Leaders , a non-partisan, transparent look at ward leaders and Committeepeople. Click Get Started or Leaders, then choose a ward, then details and scroll down.

Rules of the Democratic Party of the City and County of Philadelphia, revised 2014

Philadelphia Election Results

Previous Election Results

Pennsylvania Election Results

Committeepeople Elected Primary Election 2018

Statewide Voting and Election Statistics

Committee of Seventy, a non-partisan civic leadership organization that advances representative, ethical and effective government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania through citizen engagement and public policy advocacy.

Philly 311 A free mobile app is also available.

Department of Revenue – Tax Programs For Homeowners , tax reductions, tax credits and exemptions

Where To Turn Guide – To Help People Who Are Homeless Published by Project HOME Outreach Coordination Center. The pamphlet, updated regularly, is designed for two-sided printing, to be folded in half.

Free Meals and Daytime Services Flyer Published by Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services

Know Your Rights by Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

PA DMV Change of Address/Name – useful so Voter ID and license match

Prepared by Michael R. Swayze, a Democratic Committeeperson in 22-03. Send comments, suggestions, additions to: michael.swayze1@gmail.com.

Last Updated: 12/15/2019

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Democratic Presidential Debate Update

The number of Democratic presidential candidates remains in flux. Back in July there were two dozen plus contenders. In a fourteen day period – November 14 to December 3 – four individuals withdrew from the race. Two, however, joined the race: former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on November 14 followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on November 24. The current cast is down to fifteen.

Note: On January 2, Julián Castro suspended his campaign and Marianne Williamson laid off her entire campaign staff while remaining in the race. The cast of participants thins.

The sixth Democratic debate is scheduled for Thursday, December 19 to be held in Los Angeles. It will be sponsored by PBS NewsHour and POLITICO.

The active Democratic contenders are (in alphabetical order):
Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado
Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey
Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland
Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota
Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont
Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts
Marianne Williamson, author
Andrew Yang, tech company executive

There are thirteen candidates who have withdrawn or suspended their campaign. They are:
Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, suspended January 2, 2020
Kamala Harris, Senator from California, withdrew December 3, 2019
Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana, withdrew December 2, 2019
Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania, withdrew December 1, 2019
Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida, withdrew November 20, 2019
Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas, withdrew November 1, 2019
Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; withdrew October 24, 2019
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; withdrew September 20, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York; withdrew August 28, 2019
Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; withdrew August 23, 2019
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; withdrew August 21, 2019
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; withdrew August 15, 2019
Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California; withdrew July 8, 2019

POLITICO reports six candidates have already qualified, as of December 3, for the December 19th debate. They are: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren. Candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang may still qualify as they have already matched the donor threshold requirement. The official list of candidates who will appear on stage in Los Angeles will be announced by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after the December 12 qualification deadline.

The requirements to participate in the December debate were released in October by the DNC.

Be a voter.

Updated January 3, 2020

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