City of Phila Election Day Preparations Q&A

City of Phila Q&A for Election Day 2020

City of Phila Q&A for Election Day Preparation

You can sign up for the City’s Ready Philadelphia alert system to receive critical updates in real-time by texting ReadyPhila to 888-777. We also recommend following key City social media accounts such as: @PhiladephiaGov, @PhilaOEM and @PhillyPolice.

 

Election Preparedness Tips for Businesses

 

Follow the Commerce Department’s Twitter for updates and visit the City of Philadelphia’s latest resource page for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Following the killing of Walter Wallace, Jr. and with the potential for a contentious election night, there is the possibility of additional demonstrations and civil unrest in Philadelphia. While the City is not recommending businesses shut down, the protests represent an opportunity to review your existing security protocols.

 

As demonstrations can develop in real-time, the Philadelphia Police Department will increase officer presence around the city at key locations, including commercial districts. Businesses should have a plan to quickly communicate with your employees, and educate them on how to report suspicious activity.

 

 

Businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

 

 

Protecting Business Exterior

·         Bring signs, flags, flowerpots, or any other non-fixed objects inside when the business is not open.

·         When the business is closed, keep the facade well lit.

·         Make sure all commercial dumpsters are secured.

·         Business name and street address should be clearly visible in case law enforcement is called to the location.

·         The Department of Commerce offers matching funds for improvements to facade lighting and signage through the Storefront Improvement Program.

 

 

 

Security Cameras

·         If security cameras are installed, make sure they are in working order.

·         Ensure cameras have ample storage available before leaving the business.

·         Make sure cameras cover all access points, such as windows, doors, and bilco doors.

·         Exterior cameras can be registered with the Philadelphia Police Department through the Safecam Program. Any suspicious footage should be sent to the Philadelphia Police Department at tips@phillypolice.com.

 

 

 

Securing Your Business

·         The City of Philadelphia is not recommending that all storefront businesses board up doors and windows; businesses should be sealed up if the storefront is openly accessible, has been vandalized in the past, or is particularly at risk.

·         Reinforce windows and doors to prevent breakage. Cover them with paper sheets so merchandise isn’t visible from the street.

·         If you plan to be away from the business for an extended period of time, empty display cases of goods and store merchandise in a safe with a time-locking device or anti-tamper sensor to trigger an alarm which can be tied to any shop alarm systems.

·         Cash registers should be left open and empty at night.

·         If you see vandalism in progress, you are encouraged to call 911. For more information about keeping your business safe, contact your local Philadelphia Police District. Identify your district here. You can contact your Police District to request a security assessment.

 

 

Businesses are also encouraged to meet their neighbors and exchange contact information.

 

City Operations

 

  • Can the City provide an overview of planned road and sidewalk closures leading up to and on Election Day?

12th Street will be closed between Race Street and Arch Street starting at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 2, and extending through 7 a.m. on Sunday, November 8. The closure may be lifted earlier than Sunday or potentially be extended depending on the situation and need. This is the only planned road closure connected to election operations at the Convention Center. The sidewalk along the east side of 13th Street as well as both sides of 12th Street are currently closed and fenced off. On Friday, October 30 there will be additional sidewalk closures along the south side of Race Street, the north side of Arch Street, and the east side of 11th.

 

  • What is the public transit plan for employees needing to travel to work next week and on Election Day?

At this time we are not aware of any plans for modified transit service. In the event that there is a need to detour routes or suspend service, the City will coordinate directly with SEPTA to provide information on those updates.

 

  • What happens if road closures and/or a traffic box go into effect? Will essential employees travel to work?

The City of Philadelphia will push out updates through the Ready Philadelphia emergency alert system as well as social media. You can sign up for Ready Philadelphia by texting ReadyPhila to 888-777. Essential employees are still permitted to travel but should be prepared to provide proper identification when attempting to enter the traffic box.

 

  • Will a curfew be implemented the week of the Election? Will a curfew continue for the duration of this week?

The need for a curfew will be assessed by City leadership on a case-by-case basis and will only be used if absolutely necessary.

 

  • What is the role of the National Guard? To what extent can they be located at polling places?

The Pennsylvania National Guard was requested by the City of Philadelphia, from the Mayor to Governor Wolf, to provide support to the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and other departments in light of this week’s civil unrest and their presence is unrelated to the election. The need for continued deployment of the National Guard in Philadelphia will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis. The National Guard will begin arriving on Friday, October 30, and will be staged at critical government buildings. As additional members arrive they will be staged near key commercial areas.

 

  • Can you provide information on the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) and National Guard staging areas?

The detailed staging of these resources is still being finalized.

Election Support

 

  •  Are there any specific, credible threats to election security and voter safety in the Philadelphia area? Are there known groups threatening to disrupt the voting in Philadelphia?

There are no known credible threats at this time.

 

  • Who should I contact if something happens or someone is harassed at a polling location?

If you see attempts to interfere with voting, contact the District Attorney’s Election Task Force hotline at 215–686–9641. If there is a threat of immediate danger, call 9-11. For other non-emergency questions or concerns, contact 3-1-1.

 

  • Are there any protections in place to ensure non-English speaking voters are able to cast their vote safely? Are there any numbers non-English speaking voters can call if they face any difficulties? Is it still allowable to bring a family member or friend to the polls if you are a non- English speaking voter?

Language access assistance is available at each polling location in the City of Philadelphia. 3-1-1 is also staffed to answer any election-related questions in multiple languages. For business questions or concerns, contact business@phila.gov or call the Office of Business Services hotline at 215-683-2100. Commerce staff members are able to provide support in multiple languages. Additional information about language accessibility is available on the City Commissioners’ website.

 

  • Can you clarify Pennsylvania regulations on carrying firearms into polling locations?

It depends on the polling location. Firearms are not permitted on school property or grounds. If at any time during the election, an individual feels threatened or intimidated, they should immediately reach out to the District Attorney’s Election Task Force at 215-686-9641.  If there is an immediate threat of violence or an emergency, please call 911.

 

Demonstration / Protest Activity

 

  •  What are the plans for crowd control and oppositional protests?

Peaceful demonstrations are protected under the First Amendment and will be allowed to take place so long as they do not violate any election-related laws. For example: the demonstrations must remain at least 10 feet away from where voting is occurring and they cannot engage in voter intimidation. All polling place staff receive training on how to handle potential incidents and will be prepared to follow proper protocol as needed.

 

The City will continue to manage crowds and groups exercising their First Amendment rights while protecting lives and property and upholding public safety. This is consistent with how mass gatherings, demonstrations, and marches are already managed in Philadelphia.

 

  • What guidance can you provide in the event of significant demonstration activity and/or civil unrest?

Demonstrations could develop in real-time during election week. Businesses can take the following steps to prepare for potential protest activity:

    • Have a plan to quickly communicate with your employees, and educate them on how to report suspicious activity.

    • Bring signs, flags, flower pots, or any other non-fixed objects inside.

    • Any businesses that are openly accessible because of past vandalism or other reasons should board up so that their properties are properly sealed off.

    • Keep the property well-lit when the business is closed.

    • If security cameras are installed, make sure they are in working order and you have data storage available before leaving the property; windows, doors, and any access points should be visible to the cameras.

    • Secure all commercial dumpsters.

    • Leave the name and number of a good point of contact for the business posted near the door so Police can easily make notifications of any damage.

    • If an incident occurs, document all damage as soon as it is safe to do so.

 

  • Should businesses close?

This decision is up to individual business owners.

 

Randi Sherwood
Author: Randi Sherwood

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